COMPUTER VERSION – Edited by David R. Schichner
This work is for free use, and is not to be reproduced for profit.
DORA DAVIS FARRINGTON, M.A.
Associate Professor of English (retired)
Copyright, 1941, by
DORA DAVIS FARRINGTON
THE DAVIS-ALLISON STUDIES IN TWO VOLUMES
VOL. I. THEY SAW
Pioneer adventures of the Davis-Allison Family and
allied branches in twelve states from
VOL. II. GENEALOGY
From the marriage of Nehemiah Davis and Mary
Allison in 1805, the record of each of their descendants to 1940 is given as
fully as known. Two historical sketches precede: one,
the Davis Family from 1638 to 1805 in
COMPILED BY DORA DAVIS FARRING TON
Robert Lee Davis
Elizabeth Davis Alexander
Olive DeWitt Coker
Annie Boyd Young
By deed and voice and pen
Unloosen thongs and challenge wrongs
In all the deeds of men,
And fearless fight till truth and right
By honor are attained,
And strongholds storm till every form
Of bondage is unchained.
Harry Webb Farrington
"The present is the most equivocal of all tenses. Men and communities keep alive and vigorous on the memory of a great past and the hope and intention of a great future. The present is only a bridge between experience, which is the past, and the faith and will for tomorrow."
To Phyllis Dora
a descendant of
typical American pioneers who, with thousands of other pioneer families, have
become the advance guard of America in establishing homes, schools, churches,
government, agriculture, industries, professions, and the arts, in communities
often inconspicuous and unknown, planted from ocean to ocean. On the personal
faith and high moral and spiritual vision of American pioneers of the past, our
democracy is founded. From the outreaches of this pioneer spirit spring our
great humanitarian movements. May the citizens of today become the pioneers of
the greater future, with the faith and courage to forget self in building
TO THE READER
The heart of this book is a romance of 1805. That
year in The Ohio wilderness, a young man from New England, Nehemiah Davis 2nd,
married Mary Allison, a vivacious Girl of a
whose clear vision saw the relation of family history to national history, whose patriotism and sound judgment contributed outstandingly towards the solution of the American Indian problem, and whose initiative and generosity first made possible the printing of this book, together with
Mr. LEWIS MARSHALL BRAKE
Dr. ALICE M. CLARK BROOKS
Mrs. CHARLES LOGAN
Mr. GEORGE E. DEWITT
Mr. GRASSON W. KAULL
Mrs. JESSE LEE PAYNE
Mrs. RUTH K. TUTHILL
Mrs. SAMUEL WILLIAMS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
FRONTISPIECE: Campus Martius in 1791 Page
TO THE READER ix
TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
Francis Davis Sails for
Francis and Gartrett Face a New Country 6
What the Wilderness and Homer Taught 11
Glimpses of the Family: 1673-1776 13
After the War, Three Brothers Sail for
BOUND FOR THE
Robert Allison Heads for
On the Trail 27
The Allisons Land at
What Campus Martius Looked Like 34
As Nancy and Charlie Saw
Then Came the Indian War 44
Kinney's Garrison and Lowell 50
At Last, Home and Romance 52
Henceforth, Mary and Nehemiah 2nd:1805 55
The Home on the
Family Life at Racoon Island 67
Pastures Green and Meadows New: 1839 70
Buying and Building in the Three Counties 77
The Squire's Home 79
The Mexican War: Robert Allison Davis: 1846 92
Mary Allison Has a Ninetieth Birthday: 1879 96
Glimpses of Forty Years: 1839-1879 100
And Schools? 103
Asenath and Hardin 105
Two Others There Were 110
With Captain Grasson DeWitt: 1858 115
With Reuben Davis-Wheat: 1887 124
With Bob - The Dust Bowl: 1939 132
Desert Pioneering Below Sea Level 158
OUTREACHES OF THE PIONEER SPIRIT
The Indians and the Family Change:1790-1890 167
A Frontier on a Mountain Top:1896-1923 173
These Things Shall Be Added: 1940 180
In writing of what pioneering means, and of what
any typical American family contributes towards creating from ocean to ocean
Fortunately, from 1784 on, the family is blessed with a wealth of first-hand source material as well as records and verifiable tradition for two centuries before that. Picture two life-spans that cover 156 years from 1784 to 1940, so that my generation heard its stories of 150 years ago from the lips of people who then were actors and observers! Such priceless first-hand source material came from my Great-great-aunt, Nancy Allison Frost, Mrs. Stephen Frost, who was born in 1784 and died in 1892 at the age of 107, with her mental faculties unimpaired. I was twelve years old then. Many of my family heard these stories from her lips and those of her younger sister, our Great-grandmother, Mary Allison Davis, who was born in 1789 and died in 1882 at 93 years of age, with all her faculties alert.
In presenting my Great-great Aunt Nancy may I cite extracts printed in newspapers?
A special correspondent of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, in a story dated April 24, 1890, wrote:
"Mrs. Nancy Frost, of
She has been a great reader, has a wonderful memory, and keeps posted on everything pertaining to the welfare of the country. She was as much interested in the last presidential campaign as any politician, and she will not converse with any man long without finding out his politics. She is a strong Republican."
The Marietta Leader, in a feature story of 1888, published this:
"Mrs. Frost has always been noted as a woman of remarkably keen, active, and vigorous mind, with a memory of remarkable tenacity. These characteristics she still retains, apparently without the slightest diminution. A conversation of five minutes' duration impresses one with the fact that hers is a mind of unusual vigor, even for one in the prime of life. What is most remarkable is that her memory is apparently as tenacious of the events of yesterday, a year, or five years ago as it is of the facts of her early life.
"She has always taken the greatest interest in public affairs. Born three years before the Constitution was framed, she has gathered the salient facts in the history of the country as they occurred, and is able to recall them with remarkable vividness and accuracy. From early youth she has been a constant reader of the newspapers, and she has followed the career of every public man of note in the country. Few, who have not made the study of American history a specialty, can talk with as much intelligence upon historical subjects as this old lady of one hundred and two years. Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Monroe, are personalities real to her. She is intensely patriotic, and withal something of a partisan. As Federalist, Whig, and Republican, she has adhered with remarkable consistency to the same political ideas from the origin of the Government to the present time.
"Hers is a race which has given its best to
the service of the country. Her grandfather, who lived to be 104, was a soldier
of the French and Indian War. Her father, Robert Allison, was a private soldier
in the Continental Army during the Revolution, while his brother, Hugh, rose to
the rank of lieutenant in the same service. Both served throughout the War.
Another uncle was killed in battle with the Indians along the
To my Great-great Aunt Nancy, I am indebted for
most of my knowledge of the Campus Martius period and
The pioneer episodes of this volume, covering in
all 12 states, reveal the trend of American pioneering from
To many people I am indebted for making available excerpts from old county histories, copies of old deeds, and legal documents filed in county seats in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland; Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa, among them particularly to Mrs. J. S. Clark of Gallipolis, Ohio, and Mrs. W. 0. Alexander of Eldorado, Texas; Mrs. Albert Pierce for a copy of Clay Chapel History; Mrs. E. R.Wallace for Miss Celicia Cole's Scrapbook covering family news for about 100 years; Mr. Robert Lee Davis for the memorandum book of Reuben J. Davis, over 100 years old; Miss Amy Davis for pictures of Ohio scenes, and to Mr. and Miss Freeman for New England scenes.
Especially am I deeply grateful to Mr. Charles Logan Davis for the suggestion that I study my family, for the large mass of correspondence collected over forty years that he turned over to me, and for his constant inspiration and helpfulness; and to Miss Olive M. Jones for her encouragement to undertake this task, her appreciation of pioneering in America, and her practical aid in many ways.
Twice I crossed the
Butting fog, wind, and storm, a sailing vessel
tossed across the Atlantic four seasick months from
Among the passengers talk ran high on the rising
rebellion blazing behind them in old
There these burning issues had first fired their
imagination! There they had left behind them a family record of resistance to
tyranny. Their grandfather, John Davis, for the sake of his religious and
political convictions, had exchanged his native Grampian Mountains of the
Scottish Highlands for the liberty of
As for answer, a speaker recalled them to the
pitching cabin. "Mind you not what His Majesty's Scotch father, King James
VI, said when he followed Good Queen Bess to
"Ay," answered another voice, "and
for these past three score years and more our Puritan brothers have fled to
A flash of memory brought the old, familiar household phrases to the three onlookers. "The worth of the individual! Freedom of worship! Self-government! Church and State ardently to be upheld, but each as separate entities!"
"Ay," shouted another voice against the crash of a wave shivering the boat, "and mind you that glorious day in 1628 when our House of Commons sat for their last session? How, facing slavery to a King, Sir Dudley Digges in agony cried out, 'Let us sit in silence! We are miserable, we know not what to do!'?"
"At that, 'Nay,' roared Sir Nathaniel Rich, 'We must now speak or forever hold our peace!' And then, with hearts breaking at the prospect of precipitating civil strife, how they found their voices and wrested from the King his signature to the Petition of Right, like men that remembered Magna Carta wrested from King John in 1215?"
"Ay," came a tumult of voices in anger. "And the next year King Charles recanted! He sent his soldiers tramping into the courtyard of the Commons! He arrested some members! Others he took to the Tower!"
"But though bitterness may best be forgotten, remember this," said a quiet voice.
Startled, the crowd turned towards the dignified speaker.
"When our twelve Puritan leaders met at Cambridge on the 26th of August in 1629, and resolved to buy land from the Massachusetts Bay Colony provided they could secure a charter allowing us to form and administer our own government, they still expected us to remember that we are Englishmen!
"Our representative form of government has grown stronger and stronger since Good King Alfred's day. Magna Carta and the Petition of Right have confirmed it as shall many other writs to come! And they who stay in England to fight the issue through with life itself-which God protect-are brothers to us who go to America there to create, under God, the best we know in England and the best we can learn in America. Here or there, the struggle for liberty is one!"
Prophetic were the words. By 1640, when the Long
Parliament was summoned which beheaded King Charles, the Puritan exodus had
brought 26,000 to
From Magna Carta to the American Revolution has it been the destiny of mankind to right wrongs. For this, great leaders of these traditions and ideals, and a noble army of rank and file have laid down their lives. The 561 years between the Magna Carta and the Dedaration of Independence is but one day historically in the process of rallying all nations to their birthright of life, liberty, and justice. The 155 years between the Declaration of 1776 and the momentous Statute of Westminster in 1931 is but the glorious noon of that day, casting its brilliant rays on the new British Commonwealth of some six free and equal Dominions-with others to come-cooperating willingly to build equality of right between nations in this chaotic world. Nor shall the sun set on this day until in final victory brave hearts and cool heads everywhere build these ideals into actualities.
As the group broke up, the three brothers fell to coinparing the words they had heard with the views of their father and grandfather. Typical men were John and Philip Francis Davis, not leaders but the solid rank and file; men of standing and responsibility in their own communities; men of stalwart character and ability, to whom ideals counted more than the property they owned, and freedom than life.
Their grandfather had watched the struggle develop
Nineteen years before, a strange coincidence had
governed the choice of the day that Philip Francis Davis and his wife chose for
the christening of their youngest son, Francis. The place was the church at Thombury,
But, curious to relate, the date chosen seems
destined to make him an American and the founder of the American family of
Romance marks for Francis Davis the first
historical date in
A lovely town it was in which the two had met. Two
years before their marriage, Amesbury had separated from its mother town,
To the east of the twin towns lay the salt marshes
Who were their neighbors? What did pioneer life mean at Amesbury in 1649?
Their neighbors, like themselves, were picked and chosen more exclusively than people of any other colony in history. This the colonists knew and took pride in.
Of the first 1000 people who in 1630 came over in sixteen
ships--and that includes women, children, and servants --over 100 men were
Sternly the lazy and shiftless were ordered away, for these frontiersmen, threatened by forests, marshes, blizzards, and starvation, had houses, roads, and schools to build, and government to establish. Crops they had to raise themselves and keep food to last through cruel winters. Fish their own rods caught, and game their own guns brought down. Busy people all this meant, always wary of Indian attacks.
For Gartrett and Francis, housing, the first problem of all newly married couples, was more than ordinarily difficult in Amesbury. People camped at first in some temporary shelter like a canvas tent, a hut of boughs, or a wigwam Indian-style, until they could erect-no, not a log cabin, for this neither Indians nor English had ever seen until the Swedes arrived a hundred years later-but a "fair" or frame house. Of course all the men helped Francis build his, and when they tied the roof-tree to the chimney, the women helped Gartrett cook and serve dinner. Later, all the community swarmed to the house-warming festivities. That was the custom.
Perhaps their new home faced one side of the Commons, a wide-shaded Green running the length of the settlement, and the favorite site for two or five acre home plots, with each man's farm some distance out of town. Not until such coveted sites were gone did one build elsewhere. Central to everyone along side the Commons stood the community structure serving for school and town meetings on weekdays, and Church on Sundays.
Convenient it certainly was to live near the meeting. house! In the days before newspapers, groups gathered around its doors, tacked with notices carrying news of town and colony. Besides local and Court orders, and regulations enacted by the town-meeting attended by all citizens, the men studied the tax rates, road-building and patrol assignments, and drill dates. And the women noted the spinning regulations, announcements of quilting bees, fruit-peeling parties, and other community events. There, both men and women kept track of the rate of exchange posted for corn, beans, and wampum, all used as money. A hundred or more phases of life those doors announced and ruled.
There, too, stood the whipping post and stocks, and from there at night went out the Watch with lanterns, two together, "a young man with one of the soberer kind," as ordered. Even magistrates took their turn to guard the lightless town. "Past midnight and all's well!" would ring their cry, or "One o'clock and fair wind," or "Five o'clock and cloudy sky" unless startled by fire or Indians. Then they beat the alarm drum, or shot their muskets three times in the air to arouse the citizens to action.
On the Green, too, drilled the Training Band, or local militia. However popular the drills for wives and children to watch, they were serious business, ordered by the General Court. So also was the Garrison House, often a private home well fortified, where women and children could be protected when Indians went on the war path. There, bullets, powder, and tinder-boxes were guarded carefully.
During the anxious days of King Philip's War in
1675-1676, 500 white men were killed or captured, and sixteen
But individuals sometimes met a tragic fate. Francis and Gartrett must have warned their children and grandchildren to be wary, for one day in 1697 a neighbor's son, seven-year old Sammy Gill, while picking berries in the woods was carried off by Canadian Indians. Though at once the alarm drum beat for the militia, and they hunted far and wide, the men never found Sammy.
Occasonally, too, a
resident of the town was shot from ambush and killed, or a shed in the fields
fired at. So agonizing were the stories from other towns, that Amesbury and
The best known man in
One day three Quaker women, tied to the rear end
of an ox-cart, were dragged by Court Order from
How daring the stand of Major Pike, all the
neighbors knew. Before that, in 1669, Thomas Macy, overseer of the School and
deputy of the General Court, had sheltered four Quakers overnight in his home
during a severe storm. His defiance of Court orders finally compelled him and
his family to flee in an open boat to
Then the witchcraft delusion swept the Bay Colony!
Repeatedly Major Pike dared protest in Court, where, as a magistrate, he took
testimony. Unhappily, an Amesbury woman of unusual talent, Susannah Martin, was
hanged for alleged witchcraft, dying heroically. In
How deeply these events stirred Francis and Gartrett Davis and their family can well be imagined. Except
for their immediate circle, Francis was alone in New England, for Gideon had
lost the gamble on the voyage from
But to Francis and Gartrett four children had been born, Francis 2nd in 1652, Gartrett in 1654, Gideon in 1656, and Anna in 1659. For six generations the records of Amesbury were to carry the dates of the births and marriages of the family of Francis Davis.
Naturally Francis and Gartrett
planned for the education of their four children. But the Massachusetts Bay
Colony had also planned before
Picture the General Court of the colony in session
And who were the people represented by the delegates?
Educated men, yes; stalwart men
and cultured women; idealists who in
For the American wilderness had taught these pioneers the foremost law of education: that a man's dignity depends on the quality and spirit of his work, be it mental or manual or a well-rounded combination.
With Homeric simplicity,
And so the first class went up to Harvard in 1638,
sons of parents acquainted with hand-labor, whether or not with professional
skill. But they were sons of parents who had souls: souls
sensitiye to beauty of literature in Shakespeare and
Virgil and Homer; sensitive to beauty of architecture in the old cathedral
The delegates founded a college not to train their sons and their neighbors' sons to get a job or to assume airs of superiority. They founded a college to develop an all-round human being such as the Creator intended by virtue of the instincts and endowment of man. They founded a college that independence of character might blend with dependence on culture, the practical science of living blossom into the fine art of life, and the primitive instincts flower into the inner discipline of liberty, whose source is religion.
In 1640, in order that "ye learning may not be buried in ye grave of our fathers in ye church and commonwealth," the Colony ordered a second step. Every township of fifty families was required to maintain a school teaching reading, writing, ciphering, and beginning Latin. In 1662 it was further ordered that every town of 100 families or over should support a grammar school to prepare for entrance to Harvard. And every settlement under fifty families, or any family alone in the wilderness, was bound by law to see that, through the teaching of parents or private tutor, each child was taught to read, write, and cipher.
Such was the spirit of responsibility shown by
Just how the family built themselves into Amesbury during the next century, one can only infer from items buried in town, county, and colony archives, items so brief as to be tantalizing and yet so alluring as to arouse any detective flair a reader may have.
Francis 2nd, for instance, when 21, witnessed a
legal document of
But like most men of the colony, he gave close attention to public affairs. Read this record from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register: "The names of all those persons of Eamsbury (Amesbury) who took ye oathe of Allegiance and Fidelity before Major Pike, ye 20th of December, 1667..." And in that list of 53 names, the total number of males above sixteen years resident in Amesbury, the seventeenth is "Ffrancis Davis."
Rather more intimate is a petition he signed, addressed to "The General Court from Amesbury, Mass., in relation to a Military Officer," dated 1680. It respectfully begged, in view of the lamentable fact that they were without officer to conduct and instruct them in military exercises," that "Your Honors would be pleased to confirm and establish our choice of our well respected and esteemed friend, Sam Foot... to be our Lieutenant who is ye most suited and best disposed person among us for ye place and purpose... and his faculty in military discipline."
Did the 59 signers give a dinner in honor of Sam Foot's appointment, one wonders? Certainly, the first time Sam Foot drilled the Train Band on the Commons, Francis Davis 2nd and the other members must have given him a ringing cheer, and the on-lookers must have watched a first class demonstration of army maneuvers.
The last entry records that his estate was
administered on September 4, 1710, after an inventory ordered May 11th. The story behind that matter-of-fact notation, family tradition
supplies. On the night probably of April 12, 1710, he was returning from
a trip "down
At least one item of the estate of Francis 2nd survives today, a cane he inherited from his father, Francis Davis, the American founder of the family. Of heavy brown wood is the cane, with ivory head attached by a silver band carrying the initials, "F. D." and the date, "1647." That cane descended not to his oldest son, John, but to a younger son, Francis 3rd, and from him has been handed down to males in the direct line, bearing the name, Francis Davis.
Besides John and Francis 3rd, there were five other children of Mary Taylor Davis and Francis 2nd, Thomas, Samuel, Gartrett, Phoeba, and Mary.
For John, comparatively few records remain. When
born late in 1674, he was called John 3rd. Does that "3rd" indicate a
namesake of his mother's brother or grandfather? In the
On December 22, 1707, runs the Amesbury record, he
married Ruth Badger Jewell, widow of Thomas Jewell. Later are registered the
dates of their six children, Nehemiah, Mary, Timothy, Alice, Ruth, and
Benjamin. But why did he sell his Amesbury homestead to his brother, Francis
3rd, in 1740, as a deed shows? Why leave the heart of Amesbury for the suburbs
For Timothy, their third child, three dates still
exist: his birth, February 1, 1712, his marriage on November 8, 1736, to Judith
Three of those sons left New England together to
pioneer to the
But before they pioneered, they first had to face the issue of the Revolutionary War, tyranny or freedom! As in 1638 three young men, Gideon, Philip, and Francis Davis, left their native country to espouse liberty, so Benjamin, Reuben, and Nehemiah took up arms to defend it in 1776.
SAIL FOR THE
Reuben was the first called upon to announce where
his loyalty lay, to
For ten years past, exciting events had aroused
In the General Assembly of New Hampshire, fiery
debates blazed against tyranny. Naturally the orations stirred Reuben,
Nehemiah, and Benjamin Davis, for their cousin, Francis 4th, sat in the
Assembly and the State Constitutional Convention later. The issue was
preparedness. To know where each citizen of
Two years, that was, after the Boston Tea Party led by Joseph Dyar following secret sessions with Thomas Jefferson and other patriots. It was Joseph's wife, Elizabeth Nichols, who made the dye used to disguise the party as Indians, and helped them apply it to their faces before they slipped from her house by night to the Harbor. Well the three Davis brothers came to know the story, the exploits of Joseph as sea captain carrying supplies for the American Army, and his adventures the nine times he was captured by the British, for his younger brother was afterwards connected with the family by marriage.
On that registration day, down in Philadelphia, sat another man allied by marriage with the Davis family, George Clymer, listening to the debates which, under John Hancock, led three months later to the Liberty Bell ringing news of the Declaration of Independence, which he signed.
On that April 12, some men risked unpopularity by
writing their names boldly for the King, and went to
Nehemiah, too, was a Minuteman. In the list of
Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors, his record runs: "Nehemiah Davis,
Private in Capt. Moses Whiting's Co. of Minutemenm Col. Jno. Greaton's Regt., which marched on the alarm of April 19,
1775. Served in Nantasket in June
under Lt. James Morton, driving ships from
With the War over and peace signed, Nehemiah
fulfilled his heart's desire. In 1787, at the house of Edmund Coffin in
Shapleigh, he was ordained a Baptist minister. Perhaps Reuben was present, for
"a humble and pious man who, though poor, labored gratuitously upon the Sabbathand toiled hard upon a new farm through the week. He was wont to say that he had travelled three hundred miles barefooted to preach the Gospel."
Back of this meagre
record flames an ardent fire kindled from a personal experience of God.
That living coal touched Isaiah's lips in the
Something of this vision inspired the work of
Nehemiah Davis in
1798 was the year of the great adventure. That
year a deed in the County Court House at Alfred, now in
In the party with the Rev. Nehemia were is year-old son, Nehemiah Jr.; Benjamin and his wife Anna and perhaps some children; Reuben and his six children, Reuben J., Nehemiah 2nd, Judith, Betsy, Sally, and Timothy. Both Reuben and Nehemiah had lost their wives before pioneering.
Long they must have debated the three main routes
leading from New England to the newly acquired
All three routes they daringly rejected. Instead,
Perhaps the only comparable water trip in pioneer
annals is that of the Donelson family, described in
the Life of Andrew Jackson, by Marquis James. From Virginia by inland waterways
to the State of Tennessee, 120 women and children with 40 men travelled by boat 985 miles, ten years earlier than the
Davis party, down the Holston and Tennessee Rivers
and against current up the Ohio and Cumberland. On the way they faced storms,
ice, food scarcity, and the loss of some of their party by Indian massacre.
"A project as audacious as any of its kind in our history," says James
of the four-months trip. Certainly the trip of the
From time to time the
How attractive the long-sought
Reuben and his six children lingered several
When the family left for the Hockhocking
to join Benjamin on Sugar Creek, Reuben bought 80 acres, soon added to; Reuben
J., 180 acres; and young Nehemiah 2nd, 80 acres, with other parcels later, all
Still stands Reuben Davis's two-story log cabin on
Sugar Creek, with this inscription on a tablet over the door: "The oldest
The next year Reuben bought 640 acres for $600,
according to a deed filed at the Athens County Court House under date of November
28, 1800. He must have liked
As Nehemiah 2nd swung his ax to bring trees
crashing down on his clearing in the primeval forest, did he dream of the bride
he would one day escort there? Hardly could he have guessed that her family,
the Allisons, had already come from
BOUND FOR THE
For one thing, Robert, then twenty-nine, left a
record as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Says a
communication from the War Department of the
And Elizabeth Phillips left a home of comfort,
where, after the death of her father who came from
Together they headed for
For the answer, suppose we look at the newspapers of that day and the camps of the Revolutionary soldiers.
Was one reason the advice of George Washington,
their beloved commander? In the farewell address to his officers, he exclaimed:
"The extensive and fertile regions of the West will yield a most happy
asylum to those who, fond of domestic enjoyment, are seeking for personal itidependence." In his earlier days he had selected
40,000 acres for himself in the
Had the action of the Continental Congress some effect in voting, at the outbreak of the Revolution, to give western land as bounties for military service? Finally when paid by Congress with certificates worth only about twelve cents on the dollar, these soldiers, impoverished by their neglect of land and professions during an eight-years war, were glad to buy land from the government with these certificates "not worth a continental," as they put it. These western lands with their fertility, timber, fur, and game, offered another chance to start life anew.
Was there a more ringing challenge, perhaps, in the founding of the Ohio Company of Associates by Revolutionary soldiers in 1786? Three years earlier, while waiting in camp for the signing of the Treaty of Paris, 283 of their leaders had signed a document, variously known as the "Pickering Plan," the "Newburgh Petition," and the "Army Plan," setting forth in a letter to General Washington their hope for a colony in the West, their plans for founding one, and their opinions on the principles of governing such a colony. But Congress took no action on their petition.
On January 25, 1786,
Among their directors were General Rufus Putnam,
General Samuel Holden Parsons, General James M. Varnum,
and Dr. Manasseh Cutler, a Yale graduate of the three professions of law,
ministry, and medicine. So earnestly did the directors work,
that on August 27, 1787, the Continental Congress, meeting in
That however, is far from the significant part of
the story. The significant thing was that ideas on government had been forged
by patriots who had given not only time and hearts to the Revolution, but
brains to thinking through the problems that would confront the country once
independence was won. They were men willing to take responsibility for
colonizing and organizing the
These Directors refused to buy the land from Congress unless Congress at the same time would pass a bill afterwards known as "The Ordinance of 1787." Of this act, proclaimed Daniel Webster, "no legislative enactment, proposed and accomplished in any country, in any age, by monarch, by representatives, or by the people themselves, has received praise so exalted."
In that Ordinance Congress promised, July 13, 1787,
to respect in the
Further, the compact provided that the Northwest
Territory, instead of remaining a perpetual dependency, should go through
certain stages to statehood on free and equal terms with the original thirteen
states. That principle, won by what became the states of
So this was the news of the day published in the
No wonder that
And so, about 1784, the Allisons
BOUND FOR THE
ON THE TRAIL
About five years elapsed from the time that Robert
and Elizabeth Allison with their son left
Nor did pioneers attempt it singly. Individuals and families would wait at some frontier town for a company to be formed with a guide. A typical newspaper advertisement of the period runs: "A large company will meet at the Crab Orchard [a town] the 19th of November in order to start the next day through the Wilderness. As it is very dangerous on account of the Indians, it is hoped each person will go armed."
With but three known taverns along the route, the few cabins on the trail would hospitably invite the travellers to walk "into the fire," and offer them deer meat and Indian meal before making room for them to lie down before the fireplace in blankets on the floor. The exchange of eastern and western news was fair reward to isolated people. But most of the time, "the trail" meant camping in the thick woods.
What Robert and Elizabeth encountered can best be
learned from old diaries of the period, written by other travellers.
"Saturday, April 8,1775. We all pack up and
Wednesday 12th. This is a
rainy morning. But we pack and go on. We come to
Once safe in
Perhaps the Allisons
stopped off in
Perhaps another reason for the Allisons'
Just about a year after Charlie and Nancy Allison
had waved good-bye to the Adventure Galley as it floated down the Youghiogheny to
On April 1,1789 or very
near that date, as
He went ahead, leading the horse and watching the
trailer around curves and over bumps. Mother walked behind, most of the way,
leading the cow and carrying four-months-old Polly in her arms. Sometimes she
sat down with them too, and sometimes
Pittsburgh was the largest town west of the
Alleghenies with about 150 houses, brick or wood, scattered around, and two
dogs to a man," as an Army Colonel put it. Through this gateway to the
farther west, a great horde of peope kept continually
In the busy town of
Finally they were ready to carry all their equipment down to the flatboat on which a Mr. and Mrs. Hewlett were also travelling. Tools were the most important thing -the axe, adz, augur, hammer, plowshare, saws-and then guns and ammunition. Food stuffs they carried with them to last through the first winter and spring until harvest - especially seeds of all sorts, fruit-tree saplings, wheat flour, salt, sugar, browned barley as a coffee substitute, yeast, vinegar, and iron pots and kettles. And then for clothing there was Mother's spinning wheel and all that went with it as well as wool, ginned cotton, and cloth. Things that would last a lifetime, and things to use immediately they had to remember.
The last day on shore was such a busy day for the grown-ups that Nancy and Charlie had plenty of time to become acquainted with the flatboat.
Why, it looks like a box!" cried Charlie. So it did. It had a flat bottom and solid walls of planks built up about 8 feet, with corners squared. A big box it was, about 40 feet long and 12 feet wide, roofed over at the rear.
Along the narrow stern passage-way with its 40-foot steering oar Nancy and Charlie raced, and up the ladder to the roof of the cabin. It made a splendid look-out, they thought. On the fore-deck they saw their cow and horse and those of the Hewletts, fenced in. Down the front ladder they scrambled to the door leading into the cabin. Inside, along the middle passage-way they discovered rooms with bunks against the wall, store-rooms, and a kitchen with a wooden fireplace daubed thick with clay.
Before they went to bed that night they knew everything Father could tell them about the boat. The four side oars, 30 feet long, were just to take the flatboat in and out of the current. At night they would tie up near some bank, because, they could not see to navigate. "But what makes us go?" asked Charlie.
"The current," replied his father. "Now in November we'll float down between three and four miles an hour. But if we had gone down last April, we would have been racing twice as fast with the spring freshet. All we have to do is to keep a sharp lookout and steer."
"When will we reach
"Oh, that depends on rain and fog and wind," came the reply, "If this good weather keeps up, we'll be there in three or four days. Over in town they told me of one trip that took twenty-one days because of ice and a hard blow."
At dawn the next morning they untied and pulled
out into the current. As they watched
"Oh, this is jolly!" sang out the children, swinging their legs from the cabin roof and chattering about the few hamlets disappearing upstream.
But Father and Mr. Hewlett exchanged glances.
True, the beautiful
BOUND FOR THE
THE ALLISONS LAND
On the morning of Wednesday, November 11, 1789, Charlie's seventh birthday, the Allison children were awake at sunrise.
"Oh, we're still tied to the shore,"
"In about three hours after the mist rises from the river so we can see the snags and shoals," her father answered, pinching her fondly under the chin.
Breakfast was hurried that morning, for Mrs. Allison and Mrs. Hewlett wanted to wash and dry and pack their dishes and kettles, and wash and dress the two Allison babies in readiness to land.
Everybody was on deck by the time the men gripped their oars to steer the flatboat out of the current. Toward the mouth of the Muskingum they headed the boat. "Oh, look!" cried Charlie. "There are some men on the bank watching us!"
They looked. Against the background of giant
poplars with leaves a golden yellow in the bright fall sun, stood a group of
men at Picketed Point. Toward the Point Father and Mr. Hewlett poled the boat,
The right side of the flatboat struck the beach gently. Down went the oars. The men on shore tossed over one end of a wild grape vine to Mr. Allison. He caught it and pulled the flatboat close to the bank. Then he and Mr. Hewlett jumped out and returned the greetings of the settlers.
"Little girl," said one of the men on
shore, smiling at
"Thank you," said
The rest of that day was very busy. Father inspected the cabins built at the Point, while Charlie and she played on the bank near the boat, and mother and Mrs. Hewlett watched them. After he had arranged with the owner of a half-finished cabin, the men and Charlie helped carry their belongings up on shore and set them in the cabin. They did not unpack much, however, because Father said in a few days they were to live in one of the blockhouses of Campus Martius, a fort three-quarters of a mile up the Muskingum. There the Ohio Company of Associates had set aside quarters for newcomers.
Then they said good-bye to the Hewletts, who were going to another settlement. Before the day was over, they all wondered why the flatboat following them so closely had not put in to shore. Later they learned that from a high rock on the opposite bank the Indians had seen it and the people on board.
BOUND FOR THE
WHAT CAMPUS MARTIUS LOOKED LIKE
Robert Allison was very fortunate to be able to
rent quarters in the Campus Martius, more fortunate
than he knew at the moment. Within its stockade resided the Directors of the
Ohio Company of Associates and officers of the
The quarters he rented were supposed to be
occupied by newcomers only until they could build. As it turned out, the
outbreak of the Five-year Indian War prevented Robert Allison from ever
The fortress of Campus Martius,
or Field of Mars, was "the finest fort in the
Standing on an elevated plain thirty feet above
the banks of the
These four blockhouses were connected by fourteen two-story houses, eighteen feet wide, with walls four inches thick, and roofs covered with four inches of clay tamped on to prevent fiery darts of the Indians from setting the buildings afire. The whole, forming one continuous structure, contained 72 rooms. Three barricades surrounded it; one of sharp-pointed palisades sloping outward, another a line of sharp pickets upright in the earth, and the outer one a barrier of trees with sharpened boughs.
Above a tower room over one of the two gates rose a cupola for a bell, sent by Marie Antoinette of
After a flowery oration by General Varnum, there followed fourteen toasts, interrupted by a
thunder storm which drove the guests briefly to shelter in cabins nearby. Among
those toasts were The United States, The Congress, His Most Christian Majesty,
the King of France, The New Federal Constitution, His Excellency, George
Washington, His Exellency, Governor St. Clair, and
The Western Territory. Though the Allisons missed the
first Fourth of July celebration, they took part in many others like it at
Almost any event offered occasion for pomp and
ceremony in that hospitable settlement, the headquarters of the whole
Another time, when twelve or thirteen Indian
chiefs in a pirogue, a form of canoe, stopped off at
So Colonel Oliver marched a group of settlers under arms to the Point, received their guests officially, and led them back, Indian file, in mud up to their knees! In the inner court of the Campus Martius waited all the other settlers. As soon as their guests entered the gates, the settlers and the Guard in uniform presented arms, cannon was fired, and the guests escorted to the house of General Putnam, on one side of the court.
One of the men present, supposedly Major Anselm
Tupper, put the incident into humorous verse, a proof that the spice and gayety
of life were not lacking in
"Up from the Point through mud in style
March the red guests in Indian file.
To find their seats now one and all
Proceed to Major Putnam's Hall
Where tables spread in high Bon Ton
With smoking dainties thereupon.
Another of a smaller size
With Major Putnam's pumpkin pies.
The Chieftains eat, and some look sly:
Said, 'Good big squaw make good big pie!'
The last line refers to the belief of the writer that Mrs. Putnam "was the most fleshy and heaviest woman in the country." Probably Betsy Allison and all the other women helped Mrs. Putnam that day with the cooking.
That food was plentiful in
What that "etc." stands for may be
guessed from the knowledge of woods full of buffalo, elk, opossums, and
rabbits, as well as bears, wild cats, panthers, wolves, and other game; and
fish so plentiful in the river that their flopping against the boats prevented
people from sleeping on board. The record catch was a pike six feet long,
weighing almost a hundred pounds. But every Saturday night,
So fertile was the soil down even to seven feet, that
The first winter the Allisons
Salt was the most expensive commodity,
Very fortunate was it that the Allisons
brought a good supply of flour with them when they arrived, for that fall the
frost killed most of the corn crop. The loss hit the settlers hard. Corn was
their common staple. "But on the
But hardships only fostered good fellowship! The
second winter in Marietta, the settlers organized a literary and debating
society, known for lively and witty debates with generals, majors, and colonels
present, not to speak of judges when Court was in session, and visitors from
the East frequently. Harvard, Yale,
AS NANCY AND
Aside from watching the busy, picturesque life the grown-ups were leading about them, Nancy and Charlie found plenty to do.
First there was school. Never had they attended
one before. But the other children said that on the first Fourth of July at
Down at the Point the Green children also
introduced Nancy and Charlie to the Marshal, elected at the first Town meeting
to keep order, especially among the visitors who stopped at
The following Monday after landing, Charlie's
father paid the tuition fee necessary to enroll him in school at the Campus Martius. A small fee it was for the Ohio Company carried
most of the expense. Major Anseln Tupper was the
teacher. Everybody liked him. He was very different from the first teacher who
had whipped one of the boys so unmercifully, the children said, that their
fathers had "turned him out" in a few weeks.
Except Saturdays and Sundays, school was in
session every day of the year, summer and winter,
"Be it ordained that all members of the Colony must celebrate the 22nd February, 7th April, and 4th July annu. ally. Also in proper manner observe the 28th November, 25th December, and 1st day January annually."
The 7th April was the anniversary of the landing
On Sunday, Mrs. Mary Bird Lake held a Sunday School immediately after church service. Most of the
children attended. If they didn't, she often saw to it that they came. One
Sunday, little Horace Nye slipped out to play. "We sat around in Mrs.
Lake's room on beds, chests, and benches, waiting," recalled
Saturday afternoon about twenty of the girls,
including Nancy, used to go to Mrs. Lake's for religious instruction as well -
perhaps the first weekday religious instruction in the United States. Their
Sunday School was said to have been the first in the
Territory and the second in the
Church on Sunday everyone attended. The eleventh
law required that: "Be it ordained that every member must keep the Sabbath
by attending some place of religious worship agreeable to the dictates of his
own conscience." These Ohio Pioneers, most of them from
At first, members of the Company preached when
visiting the Colony, men like the Rev. Daniel Breck,
and Dr. Manasseh Cutler of
And then in Church, it was Mrs. Meigs, Sr., who held her attention. Every Sunday Mrs. Meigs searched in her pocket for her snuff-box, rapped it,
took out a pinch of snuff, and then passed the box to all the other occupants
of the pew.
On Saturdays there was always plenty for children
to do. Just to watch the soldiers drilling was exciting. At first three
companies of General St. Clair's troops were quartered in
Then Charlie Allison and the boys liked to go down to the public stocks and the log jail to watch what might be going on. Once a man was imprisoned for debt for whom the neighbors were very sorry. So to help him support his family and pay off his debt, while imprisoned, they used to drive up their flocks of sheep to the Jail, and pay him to shear them.
Then the fathers of all the children were making
such interesting things with their tools, the sort of thing they said they had
left behind in New England or
The most exciting thing to watch was a house going up. There was a law about that, too, the eighth one. "Be it ordained that all members must entertain emigrants, visit the sick, cloth the naked, feed the hungry, attend funerals, cabin-raisings, log-rollings, huskings, and have their latchstrings always out." It was great fun to watch the men work as one to raise logs for cabin walls, and the women and men at husking parties with dances after.
Frequently at log-rollings
Nancy and Charlie saw Harman Blennerhasset,
afterwards indicted by the
Once Nancy herself was a bearer
at a funeral. She never forgot that sad day. Squire Wood's eldest
daughter was a close friend of hers in school and Sunday School Suddenly she
fell ill and died in spite of all Dr. True and Dr. Hart could do. Mrs. Lake
chose Nancy, Eliza Ayres, and Maria and Susan Green to bear the coffin of their
playmate. "We tied handkerchiefs about the ends of the coffin and carried
it to the grave in her father's garden," said
On the road between Campus Martius and the Picketed Point lived Colonel Ebenezer Sproat and Commodore Abraham Whipple, who in the French and Indian War had captured twenty-three ships, and in the Revolutionary War more British ships than any other American naval officer. Both fond of watermelons, they raised a fine patch with the aid of the boys who helped weed and watched the groth of the melons. But the Commodore, suspecting their interest to be too personal, decided to remove temptation.
While the boys were in school, he picked all the melons ripe enough to eat and lined them up on a porch along the projecting upper story of his cabin. Just to view them would be a lesson in self- discipline for every urchin, he thought. He was strong on self-discipline.
Immediately hot indignation filled the boys! Discipline nothing! A reflection on their honesty it. was, and rank selfishness. They concocted a plan to avenge the insult. At dusk one night the braver spirits among them crept up to the Commodore's cabin. A long pole they carried at the end of which they had attached a three-pronged harpoon used for gigging fish in the Muskingum. Silently they started to gig every melon! The rest of the boys watched the road, ready to signal the approach of anyone. No one came along. One by one, down came the melons and as stealthily were they borne away to a rendezvous.
The Commodore was shrewd. If he discovered any clues, he called it quits.
Yes, thrilling scenes could the boys and girls witness almost any day in that town being founded by Revolutionary soldiers. Surveyors at work laying out ninety-foot streets, 4000 acres in lots 100x90, and three public parks; trees felled and sawed for lovely New England houses; settlers arriving every day; soldiers drilling! All in a beautiful setting by two rivers, under tall trees, with magnolias and honeysuckle scenting the air in springtime!
THEN CAME THE INDIAN WAR
Always there had been an uneasy background of
Indian massacres around
Elsewhere about 1500 whites had been killed or taken captive by the Indians before 1791. By 1795, the number had arisen to 5000. Squatters they usually were, who had slipped into the wilderness without the permission of the Government, without paying for what they seized from the Indians, and without organizing a community life to protect themselves. These individuals had given much concern to President Washington and Congress. On the one hand, the Government felt compelled to build forts to prevent squatters from trespassing on lands ceded to the Indians by treaty, and, worse still, sometimes shooting them at sight. On the other hand, it felt compelled to stop the Indians from killing solitary individuals and families when moot questions snould be settled by peaceful discussion. But squatters and Indians were equally hard to control!
With stories of massacres ringing daily in the
ears of the Ohio Associates, alertness and caution were vital. True, their
settlement was legally founded. Payment had been made both to the Government
and Indians for the land. Just ten months before the Allisons
had arrived in
But what if the many small bands on the warpath
should unite in a general uprising?
Robert Allison felt strongly on the subject. His
own brother William had been floating down the
Suddenly an attack came on a settlement of the Ohio Associates! Big Bottom, thirty miles up the Muskingum, was taken by surprise.
On Sunday, January 2, 1791, a band of twenty-five
Next morning when the news reached
By night the settlers stood sentry duty, crying the watchword every half hour. By day six pairs of scouts, dressed like Indians, ranged the forests around the various settlements to give warning of approaching Indians lest the men, working together in fields or woods or town with guns stacked near, be surprised at work.
So soon was it after the Big Bottom massacre that some settlers still persisted in living at home. That night they came rushing to the Stockade, one with his leather apron full of goldsmith's tools and tobacco, another with a china teapot and cups and saucers, another with a great family Bible, and another with knives and forks, and-vanity of vanities-a looking glass! Last of all came Mrs. Moulton. "I couldn't leave the house looking helter-skelter," she explained. "I had to set it to rights first!"
"As if being scalped with a disorderly house on one's conscience is the worst crime in the world!" murmured one of the women.
Many such sleepless nights of wild alarm and
confusion they lived through. At the sound of alarm the women at once began
running bullets. The first time the cry rang out, "The Indians are
But the Indians never attacked the Campus Martius. It was far too strong and too well guarded. They did, however, kill 38 of the Marietta Colony who were carelessly off-guard.
Sometimes the Indians were outwitted. Bird Lockhart, once caught alone, dived behind a tree, stuck his hat on the of his gun, and held the hat out as if peeking around the trunk. A bullet went through the hat. Up ran an Indian to collect the scalp. Out stepped Lockhart and fired at close range.
Return Jonathan Meigs,
Jr., also saved his life by strategy, to become the fourth governor of
The real theatre of Indian warfare, however, was
in what is now western
Even before the United States of America existed,
the Continental Congress under the articles of Confederation had been sending
Commissioners to various Indian tribes in Ohio to hold Councils, sometimes lasting
forty to fifty days, with anywhere from 300 to 1,300 Indians present,
representing up to ten tribes. As net result, the Indians present seemed quite
willing to sign treaty after treaty in consideration of money and goods, but
unwilling or unable to enforce the terms, except in limited way, upon their
descendants or upon Indians not present. If some small Indian group, not at a
Council, asserted its right to action independent of the majority group, the
tribe as a whole took no responsibility for holding the minor group to the
agreement. Besides, how could the Indians tell whether the American occupation
of the Northwest was permanent? The French and English preceding them had
disappeared. So from 1783 on, the
Finally the increasing massacres made the issue a
military one. In the summer of 1790 Congress empowered President Washington to
call out the militia of
The first army under General Harmar
in 1790 consisted of 320 federal troops, reinforced by 1,453 militia of little
training who, at their own initiative and convenience, straggled down the
Again, in October 1791, General St. Clair took the field with about 2000 of the same kind of troops, the same kind of trails, and the same lack of strategy. At daybreak of Noverber 4, Indian warwhoops awoke his slumbering army. They rushed from their tents, huddled together partially clothed, unable to see their enemies hidden behind trees. So busy were the Indians scalping the 630 dead and 283 wounded, that the rest of the army escaped in complete riot.
St. Clair, asked to resign from his command, was later exonerated on the ground of personal bravery. Three horses had been shot under him, eight bullets had gone through his clothing, and one through his hair. Congress also recognized its responsibility for furnishing inadequate troops and supplies.
By this time, the Indians were exultant. Campus Martius was thrown into indignation, despair, and anger. Even Mary Allison at 93 and Nancy Allison at 107 could not relate the details current about the campaigns, or describe the anguish of the settlers without strong feeling. And they were children when this happened.
Then in 1792 General Washington appointed General
Great was the rejoicing at Campus Martius! Out from their forts and stockades the settlers went to their holdings, between four hundred and five hundred families in all. With one exception the blockhouses and buildings of Campus Martius were sold to bidders to be torn down for timber to build homes in town and country.
The one exception was the house of General Putnam, He added four rooms and continued to live there.
Today his home is part of the
KINNEY'S GARRISON AND LOWELL
Among the first to leave the Campus Martius, even before the Peace Treaty, was Robert Allison
with seven other men planning to build on the Muskingum about fourteen miles
There on a tract using the river front as north
boundary, they built four houses connected by stockades with each other and the
river. Each of the four families, with pioneer hospitality, agreed to shelter
one unmarried man, according to an old history of
But though dangerous to leave the garrison at first, the eight men were eager to be cultivating each his own land and building his permanent home. So, said Nancy, then eleven, "They would take their farming implements and their guns and all work on one farm one day, and then on another's, and so on until they worked all around, always leaving one man every day to guard the garrison. This they continued to do until the Indians quit their hostilities."
Robert Allison, according to the Recorder's Office
of Washington County, had drawn Lot No.14, Cat's Creek Allotment, Ohio Purchase, as compensation for his services in the
Revolutionary War. There the family settled after leaving the garrison, on the
east side of the Muskingum River where the town of
BUILT EARLY IN APRIL, 1795
AND OCCUPIED THAT SUMMER BY
NATHAN AND MARY KINNEY
WILLIAM AND SALLY.
ROBERT AND BETSY ALLISON
JOSIAH AND STEPHEN.
WILLIAM AND DRIUSILLA DAVIS.
NICHOLAS AND ROSAMOND COBURN.
DANIEL DAVIS, JR.
AND ASA COBURN, JR.
ERECTED BY THE
CHIEF ARATAXL CLUB
ANCIENT MOUND BUILDERS
APRIL 7, 1874
The Inscription of the later one reads:
ABOUT 800 FEET SOUTH OF THIS
POINT, ON THE SOUTH BANK OF
ERECTED IN APRIL, 1795, BY
NICHOLAS COBURN, ROBERT ALLISON,
NATHAN KINNEY, WILLIAM DAVIS
AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND OLIVER
DODGE, DANIEL DAVIS, JOSEPH SIMONS
AND ASA COBURN.
THIS TEMPORARY SETTLEMENT WAS USED UNTIL
THE END OF INDIAN HOSTILITIES WHEN EACH
MAN BEGAN TO CLEAR HIS OWN LAND. THE
COLONY WAS ORGANIZED BY NICHOLAS COBURN.
THE SETTLEMENT WAS LOCATED ON LAND
OWNED BY NATHAN KINNEY.
THE PEOPLE OF THIS COMMUNITY
APRIL 7, 1938
AT LAST HOME AND ROMANCE
Lovely and tranquil is the rolling country along
the Muskingum near
"But Joe Simons shamed them out of it. He was a bachelor, much of a wag, and witty no matter what happened. He told everyone that he had had a strange dream in which he died and went to hell. Soon after he arrived there, the devil asked him where he was from.
"'Round Bottom, Round Bottom,' repeated
Lucifer as if in a study. 'Why, that's where Ransom
lives! What is he doing? What, dead? Here, boy, saddle my horse I've got to go
to Round Bottom for Ransom is dead, and the people have peace. Wait a second!
For Mary, or Polly, as she was usually called, school days commenced soon in her new home, for she was six when she moved there. One tragedy she often told to her grandchildren years after. When still a little girl she was returning home from school at dusk one winter day with several companions. Suddenly they heard the howling of wolves approaching. Barely had they time to scramble up into trees when the pack was upon them. One little girl climbed too far out on a branch. It broke with her weight, and down she fell. In agony the girls saw her torn to pieces by the wolves before help arrived.
Not only did the settlers found a school, but also
church. Robert Allison, Justice of the Peace and a Presbyterian, threw open his
home for religious services on Sundays. Then when the weather would permit in
the days of muddy roads, horseback riding, and oxen-drawn carts, one could go
about six miles away to the Rainbow Settlement. A
Little could Mary guess, when she first heard him
preach, that he would prove to be the uncle of her future husband. But so it
was. Her sister, Nancy, had married Stephen Frost at sixteen, and now she, too,
was approaching sixteen. Perhaps it was the Rev. Nehemiah Davis who told his
namesake and nephew Nehemiah-who wrote 2nd after his name to
distinguish himself from his uncle and his uncle's son, Nehemiah Jr.-that there
was good foraging in the
Their daughter, Sophronia,
years after, wrote: "Father said that after he had lived at Sugar Creek,
On Thursday, Apnl 18,1805, they were married. She was three months past sixteen, and he was twenty-seven.
Was he thinking of his mother that day? At any rate, in his Bible, printed in 1783 at Oxford, England, he wrote at the top of a sheet his birthday, his wife's birthday, and in another place the price of the book, 18 shillings, and then this notation:--
Sarah Davis born June 9,1752
In that notation he linked the year of the birth
and marriage of his bride with the birthday of his first love, his mother, lost
before he left
Fifty miles of wilderness had separated Nehemiah
and Mary before they met, and a thousand or more miles apart were they born. He
had been brought up in
HENCEFORTH MARY AND NEHEMIAH DAVIS 2nd 1805
When Nehemiah 2nd took his wife to his wilderness
estate on Sugar Creek, he brought her to a scattered settlement where for five
years his family had helped develop community life in their
How large a clan surrounded the bride and groom,
the tax list of 1807 shows with its notations on the number of buildings,
horses, and cows owned, and the wolf bounties drawn by the various sons of
Nehemiah 2nd's father and Uncle Benjamin, as well as reinforcements in his
sisters' husbands, Martin Boyls married to Judith,
and Edmund Neal married to Sally. When in 1808 their Uncle Nehemiah left his
With such a family group around, Mary had no time
to be lonely. In fact, with her quick-witted and lively ways, she probably
diverted her new relatives hugely. Almost at once she made the discovery that
Aside from this one glimpse into her life, one must infer her interests and her husband's from still-existing records-Bible records, deeds at the Athens Court House, tax lists of office holders in the township, and an old memorandum book of Reuben J., brother of Nehemiah 2nd.
Books and racoon hunts
were excitingly joined in that section, for, two years before Mary's arrival, the settlers took steps to establish a library.
Some one had the brilliant idea of organizing parties to tree racoons by moon or torch-light, sell the pelts, and
contribute the money. The result was the famous "Coonskin Library,"
the third library to be opened in
Then the township offices, which the
The State constitutional debates before admission into the Union, the setting up of township governments afterwards, consultations with county and state officers, town meetings for hearings on local ordinances, establishing schools and the first State university in the world under democracy in Athens in 1808, setting up taxing and judicial systems, improving mail service brought three times a week from Washington to Wheeling and from there down the Ohio by boat and up the various rivers to the settlements, road building to replace trails and agitation for continuing the national road from Wheeling to Ohio, a project finally begun in 1823 - problems like these confronted the men elected to office in the township.
Among these officers Reuben Davis served as Township Trustee in 1808 and member of the Grand Jury in 1809; Uncle Benjamin Davis as Township Clerk for four terms, Township Trustee in 1807, and Justice of the Peace in 1810; Reuben J. as member of the Grand Jury in 1812; and Nehemiah 2nd on the Grand Jury in 1811.
The War of 1812, too, brought the family close to national affairs, for Mary's brother, Charlie, enlisted, and returned home safe afterwards.
Illuminating and valuable, especially, is an old
deerskin-covered memorandum book of Reuben J. in throwing light on family and
community enterprises. How would one buy, sell, and rent property and conduct
business with but 26 banks in the
Well, Reuben J.'s
accounts show that even in the 1830's in
Bank of Pennsylvania deposit in
St. Chlorsaill, O. 02
This "paper" he received not only on business transactions of his own but on business commissions from neighbors, as his book shows. Such "paper" he often exchanged where it was issued, as he notes in connection with "Mississippi paper" exchanged when "down the river for 38 days," in a period when the money system was not entirely Federal, and a man with a surplus of ready cash became a walking bank to such individuals as he was willing to lend money on their personal notes.
Incidentally, the adventures and people he met on
his long business trips must have made interesting talk in the family and
community. Often, too, his memorandum book shows, he visited old friends en route
and brought home news of them. It was businessmen like Reuben J. who kept
isolated pioneer settlements not only informed on affairs elsewhere, but
educated to the need of local manufacturers, road improvements, and the
necessity of state-wide and national policies on these and kindred subjects. At
a city like
The Bible records in the handwriting of Nehemiah 2nd
were methodically and exactly phrased. "Grasson
Davis born September 13, 1806 A. D. Monday" was the first entry. Their son
they named after the French physician who attended Mary, Dr. deGrasson, formerly of the illfated French colony at Gallipolis, a man dearly beloved
in the country side around his adopted
Careful attention Mary must have given her babies to have all grow to maturity not only well and strong but united. Wrote Sophronia years after, "Through the wise training of a competent mother we were taught to love and respect each other, and never knew what it was to see one of our number separated from the rest by strife or ill will." Grasson, especially, Mary must have trained to be gallant and considerate of his little sisters, for to the end of their long days they were devoted to him and he to them.
Of the various deeds recorded at the Athens Court House with the signatures of Nehemiab 2nd and Mary Davis, one is of unusual significance. On December 2, 1814 they sold to one Josiah Coe the land Nehemiah 2nd had bought from his father in 1810 to add to acreage previously owned. The next year, 1813, according to Gallia County records, he bought a hundred acre tract for $500 fifty miles south, on the banks of the beautiful Ohio River. During 1816 or early 1817 he and Mary left the family clan on Sugar Creek and struck out for themselves where better opportunities offered. There, Reuben J.'s notebook reveals, family love and visits followed them.
1816 – 1839
THE HOME ON THE
Eagerly Mary must have looked forward to seeing
again the Ohio River around which lingered memories of her
The lane was essential, for the river formed the highway to Gallipolis, six miles northeast, Belpre and Marietta beyond, and then on to Pittsburgh and the far east. Down the river three times a week floated the mail and from two hundred to three hundred flat and keel boats daily, carrying about 20 people each, with much live stock, to western settlements. More important still, grocery boats with red flags and dry goods boats with yellow flags swung out of the current towards the shore at each landing, and stopped if people halloed in response to their horn and ran down the lane to the shore.
But imagine the surprise of the family when
suddenly "the fire-canoe walked on the water," to quote the Indian
description! Towards dusk the older children first saw it on a day when their
father was away from home. Into the house they came rushing with a tale of big
signal fires blazing on the river! Instantly Mary thought of Indian massacres
as in the old
Though the G. Washington was the first steamboat
the family ever saw, it was not the first on the
The family heard much of that December 16
earthquake in 1811, for in it two of the Knowles family, into which Grasson later married, narrowly escaped with their lives.
While their flatboat, loaded with produce, was tied near New Madrid, Missouri,
It was in 1817, with the advent of the G.
In 1817 the fare on the steamboats churning past
Ship building sprang up in many of the Ohio River
towns, among them
It was a very busy river life that Mary and Nehemiah 2nd and their five children saw in their new hdme, a life seven other children were born to share with them - Mary Allison, Robert Allison, Asenath, Reuben, Sophia Elizabeth, Nehemiah 3rd, and Timothy.
Nehemiali 2nd often went
hunting. So great was his reputation that his old neighbors in
So skilled was he in hunting and wood - lore that stepping outdoors at night he could tell by the howl of the wolves whether they were near their lairs or out hunting, and how far distant. Then planting one stick in the ground where he was standing, he would walk a few yards in the direction of the howling and plant another stick. Next day he could walk straight to the lairs.
One day in a cave where he had killed a pair of wolves and five cubs after a fight, he felt his heels continually being nipped. Before he could pick up his torch to see why, he caught sight of four glaring eyes at the entrance. Two pairs of wolves lived in the cave with their cubs! After another fight he walked out with the scalps of fourteen wolves. The bounty at five dollars a head for grown wolves and three dollars for cubs came to fifty dollars.
It was during a terrific bear fight that he broke the maple stock of his gun, Old Betsy. One day he left his two fine bear-dogs at home in order to train a young dog in bear-hunting. Cornering a cub, he tossed his gun on the ground unloaded, better to direct the dog. Suddenly he heard an angry roar and the sound of a great mother bear rolling over and over down a steep bank in her frantic hurry to reach the hunter.
He rushed to pick up and load Betsy. Too late! The bear knocked the gun out of his hands. With two powerful paws around him, she tried to crush him to death. But Nehemiah, though only about five feet six, was powerfully built, especially in the shoulders and arms. They wrestled. Now the bear threw Nehemiah on the ground, and now Nehemiah the bear.
But he was always nimbler than the bear in regaining his feet. Once he pulled out his tomahawk which, with his hunting knife, he always carried in his belt. But the bear knocked the tomahawk far afield. Then rallying all his strength to throw the bear to the ground, he plunged his knife into her heart. With her last gasp, the bear for the first time tried to bite him. Catching sight of old Betsy Just within reach, he plunged the stock into the bear's mouth. She bit the stock in two, but Betsy had saved his life. After that, he made it a rule always to load his gun immediately after firing, and never to lay it down while hunting.
If he were caught in the woods at night while out hunting, he would select a tall tree with branches so placed that he could build a bed of boughs in them. Then tying his dogs to the tree, he would build a circle of fires around it, and climb up to sleep, with the fires to keep wild animals at bay and his dogs to warn him. In the days of famous hunters, he was outstanding.
FAMILY LIFE AT
Like his forebearers,
Nehemiah 2nd took his share of responsibility for community life in the best
tradition of pioneers. He was the third to settle in
Just who gave the name "
His one hundred-acre farm with the
A few years after arriving, a big family event
took place in the eyes of the children. Their father announced it was about to
start building their new home, a brick house by the river itself! From
A two-story brick house it was, with its upstairs One large room commanding a magnificent panorama of river scenery. Here Mary kept busy with spinning wheel and loom, here she taught her seven daughters how to spin and weave materials for all the family clothing, cut and sew the garments by hand, and prepare flax grown and spun for the household linen. With twelve children now in the family, it was a very busy household.
So close was the new house to the river that the
Especially were both girls interested in the ferry that their father ran across Racoon Creek. People on foot or in wagons, along the road to and fro from Gallipolis, stopped at the shores of the creek to ring a bell. If Nehemiah were absent, Amazona would sometimes row the boat across. More frequently it was Asenath who took charge of the ferry, however. So fond of the water was she that from the time she could toddle after her father, she would climb into the boat with him, or onto the raft if a horse and wagon had to be ferried across. She became so skillful in steering and handling boat and raft over a stream wide, swift, and non-fordable then, that the Township people signed a petition to present the Trustees, asking that a permit be given her as pilot. That was an honor in those days.
As slowly the first fourteen families were
augmented in that sparsely settled, prosperous farming community, a Methodist circuit rider preached in houses and barns until
finally a Class was formed. In 1833 the first Clay Chapel was built, a
Before the erection of the Chapel in 1833, school was being held in a log cabin. But immediately the new building served also as schoolhouse. A brick building, 40 feet long, 18 wide, and 9 high, it was heated by a huge fireplace at each end. The walls were unplastered and unpapered.
All the twelve children of Mary and Nehemiah 2nd
at one time or another attended school either in the cabin or the Chapel. So
during all the years from 1817 to 1839 Nehemiah delivered a cord of four-foot
wood for use of both church and school, as did each family. The teachers ofter boarded around, unless members of local families. One
of the daughters of the
The nearest town to Racoon
Creek was Gallipolis, six miles away, the third oldest permanent settlement in
the State, a French colony settled in October, 1790, under the leadership of a
friend of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon himself at one time planned to emigrate
there had he not received a discouraging report of conditions. In 1795, Louis Phillipe, later King of France, visited the town for a few
hours and in 1825
But family interests went much farther afield than
On one trip when he was 32, he took his sixteen-year-old brother Reuben with him. One night when sleepy, Grasson turned the long steering-oar over to Reuben. "Call me when you come near the riffles," he enjoined strictly.
But with sixteen-year-old smartness, Reuben snatched the opportunity to take the boat through the rapids, without calling his brother. Though a novice, he got away with it, too.
Suddenly Grasson awoke.
Out of the cabin he came onto the deck. So well did he know the treacherous
current of the
All his life, Reuben never got over chuckling about the incident.
PASTURES GREEN AND MEADOWS NEW - 1839
The children were growing up! Mary and Nehemiah had been realizing that for some time, as romance opened happy vistas to four of their daughters and their oldest son.
Matilda Jewell, the oldest daughter, was married
to Charles Case; Minerva Phillips at twenty-one to Reuben Lionberger,
a young Virginian merchant of nearby Benton; and Amazona
at seventeen to Thomas Jefferson DeWitt, of
By 1839, eleven grandchildren had joined the family of Mary and Nehemiah 2nd, then fifty and sixty-one years old.
Other changes there were in the family by 1839.
Three had crossed to the green pastures where the Lord is the Shepherd. Up at
Chauncey, a tablet read: "Erected in the memory of Nehemiah Davis, elder
Then the next year "on the twentieth day of November, 1826," a quit claim w'as drawn up and later filed in the Athens Courthouse, made between Reuben J. Davis, "one of the heirs and legal representative of Reuben Davis late of said County of Athens, deceased," and Reuben J.'s four brothers and sisters, Timothy, Sally Neal and her husband Edmund, Judith Boyls and her husband Martin, and Nehemiah. And last, in 1837, Reuben J.'s memorandum book shows he was settling the estate of Timothy, never married, who left a little over $5,500 for his brothers and sisters.
The greatest change, though, was a new adventure
in pioneering. "Father thought it would be a fine thing," wrote Sophronia, "to sell his farm and buy land in
The same family spirit of solidarity, the clan
spirit, that sent three brothers together across the Atlantic to
With deep regret, it must have been,
that Nehemiah and Mary left behind three of their number. Mary Allison Cole and
her husband, Samuel, chose to stay with his people on the land he owned. And Grasson, then thirtythree, had
already established himself in township and county not only by making oars, and
raising, buying, and selling apples for the
Another lure held Grasson
to the spot, as the family well knew. He had met Celicia
Knowles, daughter of Reuben Knowles and his wife Mary Brooks, and a descendant
of Stephen Hopkins, a Mayflower Pilgrim. Her family had served in every
American War down through 1812. He could not leave
For the three left behind in
The 550 miles along the Ohio through rolling hills newly budded into the green leaves of late spring must have brought keen anticipation to the large flotilla of boats bearing the family! It was a patriarchal migration! Nehemiah and Mary travelled with ten children, varying in age from twenty-nine to nine, three sons4n4aw, and ten grandchildren.
As Nehemiah passed
Old Betsy, bought there, still laid venison and
quail low as at 61 he went ashore from time to time with his seven young men to
shoot game for the party of twenty-five. Fish they could catch from the decks
as they floated along. But provisions they had to lay in before leaving
About ten days they floated along on the lazy
current, tying up for the night at sbme bank to cook
over a campfire and linger till morning light made navigation safe. During the
trip, Nehemiah and Mary had plenty of time to give to reminiscences of the old
frontier days - stories their children and grandchildren long remembered. The
wilderness had been kind to them: it had given them opportunity!
Besides quarters for 25 people, the boats carried accommodations for horses, cattle, poultry and their feed, and store rooms for household belongings, such as linens, blankets, looms, chests of clothing, dishes, silver, a few treasures, and farm equipment, especially wagons and plows. In a word, they brought with them what was needed for immediate use: of other accessories they "could grow their own" on arrival, whether shelter, more furniture, more clothing, or more food. Pioneering had taught them independence, mastery of resources, and vision.
But Shawneetown commanded a broad expanse of river sweeping with majestic splendor and swiftness between shores with rich green barrks half a mile apart, washing white sandy beaches at the foot of the town. Besides, it boasted the Rawlings Hotel, a two-story brick building very imposing from the river front And had not the United States Government recognized the importance of Shaweneetown in arranging the trip of Lafayette, our national guest? At its wharf he had landed the memorable 14th of May, 1825, on his triumphal journey to see our country! Up from the front he walked 200 feet over a calico runner when calico cost one dollar a yard. Showers of roses fell before his feet as on he went to the Rawlings Hotel where a reception awaited him. It made talk for many a day.
Later the river that made the town laid all its
glories low. Four floods after 1832 warned the people to build a levee in 1867.
Even that did not prevent the flood of 1883 from covering the town 15 feet deep
and destroying all property. Today Shawneetown would
be lying beneath the
At Shawneetown the
BUYING AND BUILDING IN THE THREE COUNTIES
Slowly the caravan headed northwest over the famous Goshen Trail, first blazed by the Indians to the Father of Waters. Sixty miles they followed it for five days. So rough was the roadbed, Asenath used to tell her children, that after the cows were milked in the morning and the pails tied to the top of the wagons, at the end of the day the milk would be churned to a ball of butter from the joggling!
At the west border of
Part of this land he later deeded to Reuben,
Nehemiah, Timothy, his three sons, when they married. Nearby, Amazona's husband, Thomas Jefferson DeWitt, bought various
parcels of land around Knight's Prairie,
Many days they lived in the open and slept in their wagons or on the ground while axes rang through the forest to fell trees for log walls, chinked with blue or yellow clay, and to split logs for puncheon floors, beds, chairs, and tables. Six houses to go up at once, with more to follow, and no lumber yards or planing mills to draw upon!
Two-story cabins some were, and some one-story, with piazzas all around or running across the front. Downstairs, flanked with cupboards, a huge fireplace dominated the living room and opened into the lean-to for cooking. Upstairs one or two bedrooms filled the attic space. Instead of nails, the wood was mortised or held by wooden pegs. Even hinges were of wood and leather, or all wood with wooden pegs. The only iron used in the building was the crane in the fireplace. Picturesque were these log cabins, though not as comfortable as the frame houses replacing them in time.
All that first spring and summer the men busied themselves with building, plowing the virgin soil and planting crops, and hunting for meat. The women, until their new homes were ready, cooked outdoors over campfires or on hot stones. Very busy they kept themselves, gathering and drying wild berries and fruits, walnut bark for their brown dyes,wild indigo for their blue, madre for red, and peach leaves for green. Then flax had to be put through its twelve long processes, and sewing, knitting, candle and soap making done. Even shoes must be home-made, the soles put on with wooden pegs.
Their few neighbors with usual pioneer hospitality helped with log-raising, and celebrated the roof-tree and moving-in days. Later, parties followed for corn-husking, peach paring and drying, quilting, and other activities that lent themselves to neighborhood fetes as life fell into routine.
THE SQUIRE'S HOME
The center of family life was the home of the
"Squire" and his wife. Their cabin he built in
For Nehemiah life went on about the same as in
But Mary found for brains and hands new work, medical practice, that took her far afield in three counties. At that time medical knowledge and skill were usually the responsibility of keen minds gifted with observation, steady nerves tactful patience, common sense, and warm sympathy. Mary possessed all these traits together with experience in caring for her 12 children and many grandchildren.
The home of Nehemiah and Mary Davis was the home of typical American pioneers with an eastern background of culture and the western courage to work with hand and brain at whatever task of adjustment the wilderness and the establishment of community life might present. The versatility demanded of pioneers was the elemental versatility demanded in the Homeric days and the days of Beowulf. It ran the gamut from the clearing and cultivation of the land, through mechanical and trade skill in building homes and constructing machinery, to the social sciences of law, medicine, public health, the ministry, teaching and public office, and on to the arts of painting, acting, music, and writing. That versatility appears in their children. It is the fruit of free minds who have found themselves in service to home, community, and nation, knowing that difficulties are meant to be surmounted and ideals to be translated into realities.
Their home stood for more than all that. It stood for an active faith in God. Before churches were built, their house was thrown open to "protracted meetings" of three of four days, when neighbors came from miles around to sleep in barns and tent and attic, to eat at long tables in the open, and to listen to preaching. Because of their moral and spiritual insight into the laws of living and their experience of a Power greater than themselves, democracy was safe in their hands. For the essence of democracy is a spirit that pays homage to an inner sense of law and order, an outer challenge of responsibility voluntarily assumed, an impulse to grow to full capacity, a love of human beings, and a reverence for God.
When Downing Baugh left his native
Plenty of time Downing had to observe all this as
he left the great highway of his day, the
From Mt. Vernon trails led to little Benton, the
Franklin County seat, to smaller McLeansboro, the
Hamilton County seat, and to proud Shawneetown, 100
miles southeast on the Ohio. Vandalia, the next largest town, lay 65 miles
north, the State capital from the time
Taking an interest in politics, he became
postmaster, and in 1840-1841 "enrolling and engrossing clerk" of the
12th General Assembly of the State of
But even before then his connection with court houses had begun. For some years Mt. Vernon had not been a bit proud of its second courthouse, a brick building, slightly larger than its first log one, but so dilapidated that the settlers vowed it would fall down anytime. It was not in keeping with the stately frame houses replacing the log cabins around the square and the settled charm of southern hospitality. Petitions for a new building had won no favor at Vandalia or Springfied.
Then mysteriously in 1839, "after a calm, still night," so the records run, the courthouse that had withstood many winter storms was discovered in the morning to have fallen partly down with a hole in it big enough to drive a wagon though! Nobody heard it fall! Nobody knew how it happened! Nobody cared! Instead, with whoops and hollas, the whole town turned out to see that the job was thorough! Ropes were run into one window and out another. Everybody caught hold of the pulling end to have a hand in the frolic. Amid shouts and yells down came the courthouse in an ignominious pile of rubbish! "The town was full of dust and noise and fun" ran the weekly paper account.
So when the newspapers published a notice for sealed bids to erect a new brick courthouse, on the Commission of five men was the name of Downing Baugh. Obviously the authorities, however mysterious the incident, justly deemed Downing Baugh, Justice of the Peace of Mt. Vernon, a man whose reputation could not be impugned; and obviously the citizens admired his enterprise and initiative-and obviously both sides were right! So outstanding as a lawyer did he become that on Aug. 11, 1854 he was appointed Judge of the Court for the 12th Judicial Circuit by Joel A. Matteson, Governor of Illinois, and later Probate Judge. His whole record was honest and upright.
The establishment of law and order was not the only activity foremost in the minds of the substantial men and women who took responsibility for developing, in the wilderness, communities worthy to become part of the United States of America they loved, and for which their forebears had fought in the wars of the Revolution and 1812. Part of their conviction, as well as training and experience in the older sections whence they came, was that the only genuine source of freedom, law, and order, and the only true fountain of democracy, is love of God and man.
The pioneers of Christianity in the County were
the Methodist circuit riders on horseback. As early as 1819, just two years
after the first settlers came to
Downing Baugh was one of the Methodist adherents. So numerous did they become that on September 8, 1835 he signed a deed, as one of seven trustees, for Lot No.1, Block 19, in Mt. Vernon. A small building they put up, with a preacher present only once a month, and Janitorial responsibility for building the fire and sweeping the floor undertaken by the first person to arrive on a Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, the poorly seasoned roof warped so that rain and snow came through. Though naturally uncomfort. able for the congregation, it was also on occasion a source of embarrassment. Dogs often accompanied their masters into the building, as in old colonial days, and were not always as understanding and sympathetic as their owners.
Downing Baugh's dog was no exception. Particularly he had a mortal hatred for one McKay, a tall lank fellow. One Sunday morning both were in Church when the snow was melting through the roof, bringing down chunks of plaster. Baugh's dog held McKay responsible. As the first chunk crashed, up he jumped, bristling and growling in the direction of McKay. At the second racket he barked furiously to warn McKay. At the third chunk, over and under the backless benches he leaped in McKay's direction, as McKay's long legs leaped ahead making for the door. "It almost broke up the meeting for the people smiled very loud," reads the report.
The incident doubtless had a bearing on repairs to
the structure soon undertaken, with a belfry added. In 1853 Judge Baugh again
signed a deed with others, this time for four lots now the present site of the
In an early history of
Once just before dismissal time she happened to
glance out of the window of her log cabin school building just in time to see a
copperhead crawl under the puncheon floor. Quickly she gave directions to the
older boys how to raise the puncheon logs of the floor, find the snake, and
kill it before she allowed the children outside the building. Snakes were such
a menace to children in early
Sophronia was a Methodist, too, and very active in community affairs. Not strange was it, then, that after the death of his first wife, Downing Baugh married Sophronia on November 11,1846 at the home of her parents, with the Rev. John Van Cleve officiating. He was 48 and she was 36.
After eleven years of busy, smooth-flowing life in
1857 saw the railroad finished from
"Shortly after 6 o'clock," wrote one of the passengers in a newspaper letter of the day, "we got well under way, and were whirled along at a rapid rate for about 13 miles . . . when pumps of the engine gave out . . . In a half-hour we speedily made repairs . . . Extra locomotives were passed at convenient points along the line with steam up, fretting to be free, ready to take the place of any disabled . . . Flagmen each mile watched the track closely to signalize the train should any danger present itself...A jubilant feeling prevailed along the route . . . Cannon Were discharged ...Flags were displayed . . . The country was one never wearying monotony of living green, rich, deep, and dark . . . beautiful prairies plentifully interspersed with groves of timber watered by many small streams . . . In the night . . . houses were illuminated at the various towns wherever they had candles, and where they had not, tar barrels were burned instead. The inhabitants turned out en masse, men, women, children, and babies."
That summer saw Judge Baugh take the train with
his wife, and their eight-year-old daughter, Judith, for
McGregor in 1857 was booming with all the promise
of a great inland metropolis. A ferry linked the town to the
On the McGregor side, miles of teams from the inland prairies waited their turn to wind their way down the steep bluffs to the water-front, there to discharge their cargo for train east or steamboat north and south. From the McGregor docks Diamond Joe Reynolds ran his steamboats up and down the river, crowded with freight, packed with lumber and grain, and gay with passengers who might either do their own cooking on board or buy their meals.
Fishermen in the shoals and channels of the many islands lying at that point in the river were searching for pearls in the oyster beds, a livelihood so widely advertised that a pearl-rush was on like later rushes to gold fields! All around McGregor was the stir of construction and business, with legal work to be done.
A picturesque town as the Baughs saw it for the first time that summer day! Its one long street running for a mile or so parallel to the River shied away from it to avoid its floods, only to face the dashing avalanches of water that rushed down the steep, forested bluffs overshadowing the town, when storms raged on the heights above. So violently tumbled the water down the hills after a thunderstorm that people were frequently swept off their feet on the main street, and crates and boxes of merchandise, left by chance on the sidewalks, whirled down into the river. Today, three dams in the ravines behind the town tame the waters, and a 9-foot deep 12-foot wide ditch, running behind stores and houses of the long street, guides the torrent.
On a side trail leading from the main street uphill towards the heights, Judge Baugh built a house in the forest on land going back to the French crown patents of the Dubuques and Giards. He who built his house on the open prairies on the heights above was accounted daring in those days. To be sure, 23 settlers soon went up. But they compromised by buying a "woods" along a ravine for their fuel protection. To this day their descendants to the third generation hold that "woods" inviolate. Prairie fires, Indians, and winter blasts, threatened their lives up there.
On one promontory commanding the river, Zebulon
Pike, that doughty descendant of the old Amesbury Roger Pike, vainly
recommended in 1805 that the Government build a fort. Instead,
Always the townspeople were river-conscious. Well they might be for life and income were at stake! At that period the great inland states from the upper reaches of the Ohio where Marietta and Wheeling stand, to the great reaches of the Missouri River far up the Yellowstone River into Montana, and on north to the Canadian border where the Mississippi pours from fir-bound Lake Itasca, to the mossdraped live oaks of Louisiana-all were dominated by the River with its 300 steamboats plying those waters from 1809 until the significance of that train whistle in 1857 finally awoke them to their doom, and the waters sobbed themselves quiet in a lonely sleep.
When Downing Baugh built his house in McGregor and
hung up his shingle under the firm name Baugh and Stoneman,
the town was just eight years old. Five years after his arrival he was elected
judge by the people and commissioned in consequence May 6, 1862 by the Hon.
Samuel I. Kirkland, Governor of Iowa. His duties as an officer of the Internal
Bureau in 1866-1867 for the
Though rushed with legal work, he always found
time to undergird the community spiritually. He and
his wife became charter members of the
His wife Sophronia ably seconded his home and public life. Theirs was a hospitality prodigal even in a pioneer community where it was common for a dozen or more to drop in after morning service, unannounced for dinner. Too prodigal, the children thought! For two generations that tradition of hospitality lasted, and for two generations the children and grandchildren, as they helped behind the scenes and watched the guests come and go, would tip each other off beneath the breath with the magic initials, "i.g." and "n.g.," "ideal guest" and "no good"!
At times, Sophronia's
tact was required too, as in the Civil War. When the line-up of sons against
sons came, Judge Baugh naturally sympathized with his native
But though she lived to be 97 years old and four months and twenty days, she never permitted cards to be played in her home! One of her favorite pieces of furniture was a beautiful antique walnut stand on which always rested two Bibles, a big "Parlor" Bible and a small one for use. This walnut stand she bequeathed to a granddaughter with a sole proviso: that no cards should ever rest upon it. "The black spots on the cards are the devil's own finger-prints," she added impressively.
She wrote a beautiful flowing hand with letters perfectly formed, quite in keeping with her dignified, rather formal English style. A letter from her was a treasure to be handed down in the family. Here is one of exquisite penmanship to a granddaughter about to graduate from a medical college.
We received your kind invitation to attend the closing exercises of your Collegiate Medical Course: but I must deny myself the pleasure of being there. And when you think of me as being almost 92 years old, I think you will kindly forgive me for being absent.
But I will be happy to greet you when you come home to stay.
With love and many good wishes from
She was a purist in English diction. An anecdote is current even today of her rebuke to a sister who said in her presence, "Awfully pretty." "Can you truly mean," protested Sophronia, "that the object of your admiration fills you with profound awe?"
Always dainty and particular in dress, she had 97 long years of experience, unbroken by any illness of consequence save the last three weeks before the end, in which to demonstrate the dress and manners of a lady, and she never hesitated to give others the benefit of her advice. She it was who directed her sister Asenath in arranging the dress and pose of their mother on the occasion of her first picture at ninety.
To her daughter Judith's upbringing, she devoted much time and pains, especially since she had lost a son and daughter in infancy. Judith was a girl of extraordinary beauty, with mind so brilliant and retentive that at eighty she would help high school students who sought her aid in Latin and Algebra. After graduating from the McGregor High School, she followed her mother's footsteps in securing a teacher's license, and taught in McGregor and nearby Marquette until at twenty-two she settled down to home and community activities on marrying one of her numerous beaux, Henry Harrison Clark.
The year before, 1871, Dr. Clark had ridden into
town while on a horseback trip to recuperate. At eighteen, he had run away from
home to serve three years with the 92nd
Further, he had a decision to make. One of the
staff, eminent in American surgery, had offered to the brilliant student a
position as assistant in his office just opening in
The church bells were ringing that Sunday evening in
June as he entered McGregor. The sky was deep blue. The sunlight still played
on the new leaves and glittered on the river. McGregor was a beautiful town, he
thought; almost the same size as
Forty or fifty miles a day through the hills of
Clayton and Allamabee counties he drove, summer and
winter, to see his patients, starting often at 4 o'clock in the morning. His
children took turns driving the horses for him, learning much of nature and man
from the father they loved. Back in time for breakfast the school claimed the
driver and the hospital and town the doctor. No wonder that later, when called
upon as officer of state-wide societies to tell of early medical days in
Of the six children born to Judith and Henry Clark, four taught awhile after college training, before turning to other fields. One became a statistician for the United States Department of Agriculture. A daughter, after homesteading in North Dakota, specialized as a journalist in old Mississippi traditions and stories for a series of mid-west papers; and another daughter worked for twentyfive years with her father as a physician in Clark Hospital, taking over all the medical work of a 24-mile area during the First World War to release men doctors for war work.
Married now, with medical work behind her, she sees her father's point about automobiles, but still argues humorously for horses as she thinks of the inspiring 4 o'clock morning drives with him.
"I could manage a team of them," she says, "and also about my patients. But automobiles are so stupid! I had to hire a chauffeur to look after mine! Why, when I first drove my auto into its garage, instead of finding its way like a horse, it tore down part of the building! And the first night out, when I drove it up to the post and went into the house, it stayed out all night in the snow instead of going properly into its stall like my horses!"
1846-1847: ROBERT ALLISON DAVIS IN THE MEXICAN WAR
"I had the pleasure of being in a meeting twice today. In the forenoon I heard a Unitarian deliver a little essay against sectarian prejudice, and in the afternoon the Methodist circuit preacher." So runs a letter of 1846 to Elizabeth Irvin, wife of Robert Allison Davis, named after his mother's father, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.
"I was detained on the road," he wrote
Within three months of that letter from
The novel stir and excitement of camp life
breathes in his letters, mingled with declarations of love for country, wife
and son; messages to friends back home; "discoveries of love letters"
to his sisters, by one "Reuben" to Sophronia
and one "Absalom" to Sophia, neither of whom they married when the
war was over; rumors running like wild fire through the camp. "A rumor
this morning that General Scott has taken the City of Mexico without firing a
gun! Bit I think . . . it more good than true." And again, "We expect
to start to
Since there is no time for
"Day before yesterday," he writes, still from Shawneetown, "we buried one man of our company... in the honors of war . . . something new to me. Twelve of us marched in two sections with loaded muskets, six before the corpse and six behind until we reached the graveyard when we halted with our arms on each side of the grave and let the coffin down. .. Then the captain read a prayer... We fired our muskets, filled up the grave and returned."
Behind the stark description one feels the prophetic thought that this, too, might happen to him. Of deaths and illnesses he had occasion to write often, of which "the most fatal is measles," he says. Even in the First World War it was measles that reaped one of the heaviest harvests of death among American soldiers because of its aftermath of pneumonia.
Of the trip down the Mississippi he writes under date of May 29, 1847, from New Orleans: "We left Shawneetown last Monday morning and arrived at New Orleans on Friday night, and taking it altogether it was not a pleasant trip. We had full liberty to go any place on the boat either on deck or in the cabin, but we had to do our own cooking and so many to cook and only one stove to cook on that we were considerably bothered to cook and eat, and what was worse, we lost two of our company. One died of the measles and the other took delirium tremens and jumped overboard and was drowned."
From camp near Carroliton, Louisiana, June 8, 1847, he writes: 'We expect to start tomorrow for Vera Cruz where we will tarry for four or five days . . . and then out to Tallappa . . . We have plenty to eat, such as it is, pork, crackers, beans, rice, sugar, coffee, and live very peaceably with most of the company, especially our own . . . Most of the men are fine fellows. The Lieutenant Colonel said we are the finest looking he has seen."
From Vera Cruz, Mexico, June 27, 1847, "We
left Carrollton on Tuesday and arrived here on the next Saturday, being only
three days and a half out of sight of land and but little seasickness. I was
not seasick at all. I was considerably disappointed in my notion of the city of
We are now encamped about two miles from the City on the Gulf shore," he continues in the same letter. "We see Mexicans passing to and fro all hours of the day who claim to be friendly but it is supposed that some of them are spies...Two of them were taken down to the city today, I suppose for trial, but have not heard anything more about it...It is also rumored that there are two thousand Mexicans some eight or ten miles back of us but will not be likely to venture nigher. If they should we are strong enough for them.
"We had three false alarms last night in which the men in general acted brave and consistent. The line of battle was formed quick and neat and some men gathered their muskets and went into line that had not been able for duty for several days. For my part, I did not feel scared. Thought that I had rather die than act cowardly! The first was occasioned by about twenty Mexicans that had slipped in to steal horses and were fired on by the guard. The other two were by mismanagement by the guard, either accidentally or on purpose."
In his last letter is this parting message to his wife. "As regards my feelings, I know that I would love to be at home where I could have your company and see my little boy. But it was my desire to serve my country that influenced me to come. Therefore I have the fortitude to bear with my feelings."
After that, came the news of the death of Robert Allison Davis in the City of Mexico, October 15, 1847.
He had the good fortune to be born when the
Liberty Bell had rung but 43 years before, and the Constitution adopted but 31
years. His was a time when the great debates of the Revolution had a convincing
reality because only recently had words been converted into deeds on such
subjects as taxation without representation, involuntary servitude, trial
before one's peers, religious and political freedom, the right of free speech
and gathering. His was a time when pioneers were still converting great
historical phrases into deeds in close ties of comradeship in founding
And today, to quote Walter Lippman, will our nation ever find "without the deep conviction that it is continuing a great history, either the unity which will make it secure or the hard unconquerable spirit which, if it is tested, will make it victorious?"
The principles of the Revolution and the Bill of Rights are still valid! Eternal and dynamic principles, they have power to create a revolutionary manhood and weld a citizenry conscious of their birthright and alert to defend it.
As long as one nation is an aggressor against another, as long as one human being is denied political and religious liberty not to be confused with license, as long as any man is hungry or homeless or unemployed, there a political or economic or social or spiritual frontier challenges pioneers.
To all souls, wherever born,
MARY ALLISON HAS A 90th BIRTHDAY - 1879
Forty years passed by from the time the family
flotilla swung out of the
A call on Grandmother was always a ceremonious occasion. Though her spacious room formed an ell to the large farmhouse of her son, Reuben, no caller ever came to the house at any time without first paying respects to her before entering Reuben's door. By the fireplace with its brown pot of tea perpetually brewing over the crane, she she received her guests. A dainty little figure she made, redcheeked and keen-eyed even at ninety, dressed in white lace cap, challis of rosebud pattern, with tight waist and fullgathered skirt, her wonted red and blue bandanna tricornered across her slightly rounded shoulders, and her favorite necklace of vari-colored glass beads around her throat.
Mind alert and body agile, she welcomed her callers with dignity and graciousness. Whether the conversation touched on current events or ran back to the days of the spinning wheel in the farther corner of the hearth, she was equally at home. To one guest she might recall the wolves howling around the sheepfold at night and show the gun with which she slipped out of the house to shoot them. To another she would praise the modern inventions, pointing to the organ by the farther wall, the first brought to Illinois, the Seth Thomas clock of 1854 - still running in the California home of a great-granddaughter today - and especially the wonderful illumination of oil lamps, replacing candles and grease-lamps in her home in 1857, even when kerosene was seventy cents a gallon.
But mention a sewing-machine, and she became
reserved! Her dresses must be hand-made to please her, and she preferred her
own sewing to the seams her daughters ran up swiftly on the machine. Yes, she
wanted her daughters up-to-date in household equipment, but, turning the
subject neatly, especially abreast of reading! As for her daughters, so active
was their mother at ninety, that they were much of the opinion, as was
Gala event as was her ninetieth birthday, her grandloved best to remember the times they were permitted to run over to her room by two's and three's. Aiways ready for a lark with children, whom she dearly loved, gaily she would take them out to watch the cane-mill trickling out molasses, or to inspect the mulberry tree for the promised pie if they could shake down enough berries on a white sheet beneath, or on a tour around the farin to discover some other treat. If the weather forced them to stay indoors, then Grandmother would bake the most delicious little corn-cakes imaginable or' the hearth, and the children were permitted to blow the clean wood-ashes off of them! Spread with sweet home-churned butter, their, was a taste delectable! But the luxury of luxuries was the privilege of snuggling up with her at night between two feather beds. One thing, however, she would not let them do. She would not let any child peep under the cover of her wicker basket with its wicker handle, always standing at the foot of her bed. And that, they wanted to examine most of all!
By the blazing log fire she told them dramatically
marvelous stories of early days and Indian tales, tales her grandchildren and
their children still retell vividly. And in turn they would sing her favorite
hymns and popular songs. One of her favorites was also
FORTY YEARS AGO
1. How wonderous are the changes since forty years ago,
When girls wore woolen dresses, and boys wore pants of tow,
And shoes were made of cow-hide, and socks of home-spun wool,
And children did a half day's work before they went to school.
Just forty years ago, just forty years ago,
The men and the boys, the girls and their toys,
The work and the play, the night and the day,
The world and its ways have all changed 'round,
Since forty years ago.
2. The girls took music lessons upon the spinning wheel,
And practiced late and early on spindle swift, and reel.
The boys would ride the horse to mill a dozen miles or so,
And hurry off before 'twas day, some forty years ago.
3. The people rode to meeting on sleds, instead of sleighs,
And wagons rode as easy as buggies nowadays.
The oxen answered well for team, though now they'd be too slow,
For people lived not half so fast, some forty years ago.
4. How well do I remember that
That father bought and paid for in cloth our girls had wove.
And how the people wondered when we got the thing to going,
They said 'twould burst and kill us all, some forty years ago.
5. Yes, everything has changed so, 'tis plain to tell the cause,
For men are always tampering with Nature's wonderous laws.
And what on earth we're coming to, does anybody know?
For everything has changed so much, since forty years ago!
Yes, children loved to scamper over to visit her. Quick. witted she was, they said, and oh, so merry and happy!
Two daguerrotypes her children coaxed her to sit for, one in winter with white cap tied tight beneath her chin and her shawl tugged close to her neck, and the other in summer with bonnet strings loose and bandanna over her shoulders. But rather dubiously she must have sat for the pictures, as her firm-set mouth reveals grimly. Did it seem an unreasonable concession to her daughters, one wonders, or did the prolonged pose bore one so active?
Yet for those two pictures her children and their children's children were deeply grateful three years later -and they were many! When in 1882 Mary Allison Davis passed on at the age of 93, her direct descendants numbered 303.
GLIMPSES OF FORTY YEARS - 1839-1879
In truth the three counties knew much of the
activities of the
Minerva they rallied around early. With unaccustomed ax, her husband, Reuben Lionberger, had dared tame a wilderness, farm, serve as Justice of the Peace, and contribute without stint his store of political and historical knowledge to organizing community life. In twelve years the wilderness got him. His wife was left with three small children of the nine that came to them.
With independent spirit she turned to her loom.
Gifted in weaving and tailoring beyond all women of the region, she spun, dyed
yarn, wove cloth, and tailored the two homespun suits a year the men then thought
necessary, the winter one lined with cheese-cloth. In exchange, she accepted
money, food, or work on her 160 acres. When her oldest son, John, was killed in
the Civil War just as he planned to shoulder responsibility for the farm and
his mother, she planted flax, and more daring still, the first cotton crop in
Jefferson County with the aid of her youngest, Adoniram
Judson Lionberger. Very busy was she in weaving for
the neighbors carpets, blankets, and coverlets, often with the gay
companionship of her mother beside her, until her son grew up to marry a
beloved bride, Mary Elizabeth Rogers. Then she devoted herself to her
Mary Elizabeth, too, the community had surrounded with pioneer protection and hospitality when her family faced the great peril of pioneers, illness without adequate medical facilities. After six of her family were lost within a few weeks, a neighbor mothered her at nine, and Minerva her six-year-old sister Amanda. Years later, all the countryside flocked to a double wedding in Minerva's home to see Adoniram marry Mary, and Thomas Irvin, Amanda. The whole township rejoiced, for 'Niram, besides being a prosperous farmer and horse breeder, was starting a career that led to his becoming School Trustee, Treasurer of the Sugar Camp Baptist Church, Road Commissioner, and County Supervisor for eight terms. In the eyes of the neighborhood, it was a happy day for Minerva's brave life.
Sophia Elizabeth, also, was left a widow early.
She had married into the Sturman family from which
her brothers, Reuben and Nehemiah, and her cousin, Reuben Boyls,
had chosen wives. An old
It was a fine match, that of Sophia and James
Ritchie Sturman. With pioneer vision foreseeing the
days of brick houses in
Left with two children, Sophia married Frank Brake a few years later.
A delightful couple Amazona and Thomas Jefferson DeWitt made, she, small, dainty, and slim, particular about dressing well, quick-witted and full of fun; he, six-feet-one and over 200 in weight. Genial and open-handed they both were, well-adapted to the prosperity that, coming to them through increasing crops on ever increasing acreage, made their home the logical place to entertain notables and prospective settlers. His team of large yellow horses was always on the road on business, going to Baptist affairs, or showing prospective settlers and guests the opportunities of the County. But he was never too busy to hear his twelve children spell from the blue-backed Webster spelling-books, sing their geography songs, and recite their Bible lessons. For every son and daughter of his, one rule he had alike each must be married from his fireside with the whole neighborhood invited to the wedding feast at long tables seating over three hundred. To his way of thinking, marriage was a sacrament; home, the basis of community life; and the community, essential witnesses of vows pledged "until death do us part."
For his grandchildren he kept in his desk a box of peppermints which he would accidentally find when sitting down to work on business, Church, or School Board accounts - an ardently hoped-for signal which brought the children flocking around him. So contagious were his merry ways that the family tested whether or not a child was ill by taking him to Grandfather's. If he could not persuade the youngster to laugh and romp with him, off to the doctor went the child hurriedly. The home of Amazona and Thomas DeWitt was a bulwark of family and community solidarity.
Timothy's home, too, honored the tradition of neighborhood hospitality. Every day of the week his table was open to friends dropping in, especially after he returned from the Civil War more or less invalided for life. In spite of his limited strength, his grandsons found him spirited enough in his seventies to pick up his old, heavy musket and hit the bull's eye in a shooting contest with them.
Somehow, Sundays and birthdays especially endeared
to his neighbors Uncle Timothy, as he was called. At the
Nehemiah 3rd took responsibility for school at thirtythree.
Quiet and unassuming he was, slight and slender;
but on the School Board in 1860 he spoke and acted with a conviction and
authority accepted because of the respect he commanded. It was he who decreed
that the little log school house with its puncheon floor must go. Only a
substantial frame building accommodating one hundred Was
suitable for their
And the teachers? Well,
with their "
Even when emergency required a substitute teacher, the outstanding men of the community were willing to be drafted for that school and the few approaching its standards. Once, for the last two months of the term, it was the President of the Bank, John W. Goin, a tall, stately gentleman of six feet, who acceded to the insistence of the Directors.
When the pupils entered the schoolroom the day he
took charge, they saw written in beautiful penmanship on the board: "You
may do as you please." They did. The bell in the cupola rang for school to
begin. To the board he stepped and added, "if you
do what is right." Silence reigned in the schoolroom, dismayed silence.
Only one boy attempted to do the wrong thing. So instantly and vigorously was
he dealt with by the aid of a ruler, that "order
and the hardest kind of application prevailed until the end of the term,"
Equally progressive was Nehemiah 3rd on his farm. Aside from acreage devoted practically to raising family food, the rest of his 180 acres stood in orchards of apple, peach, and cherry. What his family did not need in fresh, canned, or dried fruit, he sold. When grafting his trees and planting crops, he applied the best methods.
A clear-cut understanding he had with his wife. Indoors she was the head of the family. All their eleven children lived up to her standards and demands, and her standards were the best southern in tradition. Though her grandmother, Sally Dabney, came from Carolina to Kentucky at five in 1776, with Boone's first party of immigrants, where she married William Sturman of Virginia, she never forgot that she was a Hancock from Carolina.
But outdoors, Nehemiah 3rd was the head of the
family. Whether it was the farm, the
ASENATH AND HARDIN
Asenath lived most of
her life in
It was Hardin Davisson
who took her there. Born in 1814 in
"Release the men!" thundered the Judge.
"It's they who bring prosperity to this town with their rafts! They are
entitled to their fun!" To this day the story is handed down in
Hardin received his name from Matilda Hardin, his
grandmother on his mother's side, an old
The old slave quarters on the plantation are torn
down, but still today from its stone foundations the big, booming bell calls
the hired men to breakfast at 5 in the morning. And still in summer out on the screenedin porch of the summer kitchen the mistress of the
house waves her peach branch over the table in old Southern style to drive off
the few persistent flies. There, too, stands the splendidly equipped shop, a
combined carpenter and blacksmithy place with
complete outfit in tools and forge, reminiscent of the days from the Colonial
period through the Civil War when every up-to-date plantation raised men
proficient in every trade, a self-sustaining unit like that of Washington at
Mt. Vernon. Public-spirited men, these who "lived under
their own vine and fig-tree," to quote
From this kind of background young Hardin came to
There he met Asenath and
married her on the 7th day of January, 1841, with Esquire Atchison officiating.
Soon he owned a farm as well as a smithy. Versatile in all that a man had to
know and to do in those days, he specialized in making wheels by hand, almost a
lost art today, an important product when
transportation called for boat or wagon. Selling out in 1853 to pioneer in
With Asenath he joined
"Bright-blooming hollyhocks, slender and tall,
Like sentinels bold guarding the way"
up the path to the door where Asenath welcomed her guests to afternoon tea. At last, after chatting gleefully about flowers, books, and music, her husband's work as alderman of the third ward on the Prohibition ticket, and reciting smoe of her own poetry, she would escort her callers to the gate along a path bordered by high trees, relics of the primeval forest, and past beds of
"Lilacs and lilies, portulaca,
Everything stable as old alpaca"
bidding farewell with "Keep your chin up and courage high!"
That her courage ran high, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported when a cyclone roared into the town one Sunday, killing over 100 people and levelling most of the city. Four houses which Asenath owned crashed down, and four rooms of her own home collapsed. But, runs the news item, "Mrs. Hardin Davisson, a sweet-faced old lady, bearing her own losses unselfishly, gave hot coffee, bread and food all day long to people without homes," and the Mt. Vernon Daily News wrote that she was "loved by every man, woman, and child" in the city.
With parents as artistic and craftsmanlike as were Asenath and Hardin, it is not strange that among their twelve children were journalists, an architect and builder, and some artists.
Don owned his own paper at
At that time the county and town papers formed
public opinion not only on local issues but on state and national. Inevitable
this was, for the railroad had reached the
Uncle Billy took his responsibility seriously. Though sometimes on the losing side politically, honesty of conviction meant more to him than profit. When in 1872 his paper, The Golden Era, supported the Greenback Party then running Peter Cooper for President of the United States, so fiery were his editorials that the Republicans of the town offered him a purse of $300, not an inconsiderable sum at that time, to change the policy! Indignantly he spurned the money. But when the Greenback cause failed, he had to suspend the paper. As a result, he became a co-editor of The Pro gressive Farmer.
So completely did he make his five children his companions that they adored him whether in the family circle or the office. At evening prayer they were most eager to sing his favorite hymn, "Rock of Ages," and his newspaper was almost a family project for which his children helped collect and write the news, and sought advertisers and subscribers.
This work with him developed a civic spirit that led his son, Will, after graduating from a college of dentistry, to pioneer in a new Arkansas town, where he became mayor, organizer of the bank, and its President; and their daughter, Catherine, in addition to ranking as professional with pen, brush, and voice, to serve on juvenile delinquency and conservation boards in Missouri.
And among the greatest inspirations to both was Asenath, in whose home her mother, Mary Allison Davis, often visited.
TWO OTHERS THERE WERE
At their mother's 90th birthday Grasson Davis and Mary Allison Cole, the two children who
The bride of a few months who bade farewell to her family that spring day forty years before, at 61 was still full of fun and vitality. Far too modest and gracious was she to realize that the stream of people calling at the Gallipolis home revelled in her quick wit and radiant disposition. Though nine of her ten children had flown, six still clustered near her in their own homes, and her daughter Celicia lived with her parents to make her mother still happier with her exuberant spirits and loving ways. Celicia's hobby, too, bound her to all the family, for she kept a scrap-book of family events with material dating back to her Great-Aunt Nancy in 1784, and that meant correspondence.
Stories Mary could tell of her son, Reese, Captain
of the U. S. gunboat, Silver Lake, during the Civil War, and of her son, Grasson Marshall Cole of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry,
killed in the advance guard at the battle of Ebenezer Church, whose commission
as Lieutenant was sent home to his father; and of her son-in-law, Samuel McElhinny, who, enlisting at eight, received a bronze medal
from Congress for capturing a Confederate flag. The daring exploits of old
Colonel Saff ord, into
whose family a daughter had married, furnished many an exciting tale, for he
was the intimate companion of Daniel Boone before being elected senator and
associate judge. But whether she talked of these, or of her twenty-two
grandchildren, soine in college, or of the activities
Grasson Davis was seventy-two at his mother's birthday, tall, slender, and straight as ever. Many questions he had to answer about the old brick homestead on the river front, turned into a workshop when in 1843 he built for his bride a two-story frame house near the old log-cabin, still standing under the great-girthed walnut tree, with the tree and flower-bordered lane leading to the wharf. For twenty-nine years he had been trustee of Clay Chapel where Sophronia and Matilda had belonged to the first "Class" and his mother had been received on confession of faith at fifty, and where his wife had served as president of the missionary society till going on.
But perhaps he would never have become a member had it not been for the kindly ruse of a minister. Everyone wondered why a man of his sterling integrity should resist all persuasion and yet usually attend services, contribute liberally, and study his Bible assiduously. When pressed, he always answered with characteristic modesty, "I am not good enough." A new minister pondered the problem. Without Grasson's knowledge his name was written in the "class-book," and the book handed to him to attend to some church business. Mechanically Grasson glanced down the list of members. At his own name, he paused long. After a silence, slowly he spoke: "Well," he said, as if to himself, "they wrote my name down there. If they think I don't do right, they can scratch it off." From that time he served the church continuously as secretary of the Sunday-School, trustee, and steward. His was a quiet, deep nature. Without an anaesthetic he had a cataract removed and never uttered a sound.
No wonder when Celicia
dedicated at birth the oldest of their five children, Franklin Grasson Davis, to be a minister and missionary, Grasson later mortgaged his farm that his wife's dream
might come true. In
In the pioneering period of the
With Captain Grasson DeWitt 1858
With Reuben Davis 1887
With Bob 1939
WITH CAPTAIN GRASSON DeWITT
The frontier resounded with thrilling call to
adventure in the 1850's! Fantastic as the dream had looked to timid souls,
steamboats were chugging up the waters with their back paddles, nosing into the
far tributaries of the Mississippi to the land of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and
Montana where the prairies roll up to the foothills of the Rockies. Trains,
that daring invention of the East, already dashed up to the
In 1858 Grasson DeWitt
answered the call. That was to be expected. At five, had he not revelled in the exciting adventure of floating down the
Ohio River to
So Amazona and his
father, Thomas Jefferson DeWitt, were none too surprised to hear the
announcement, now that he was 24, of a reconnoitering trip to
Three days they drove their covered wagons from the Franklin County home to the ferry for St. Louis, and then on through to Kansas City, a frontier log-cabin town, slowly driving the live-stock before them. For almost two weeks their covered wagons pitched and tossed over the rough trail that led across the "Forty-mile Prairie," without cabin, fuel, or water. Over campfires the women cooked the food brought from home, varied by game the men shot.
Then one day there rolled before them the rapid
current of the Neosho, the third largest river in
Three years flew by. A cannon booming from
Partly recovered, he set out one day to plow his
fields for wheat. So frisky were the horses that he threw the lines around his
shoulders better to control them. Suddenly the plowshare snagged under a strong
root near a stump. Impatiently the team surged ahead. Over the plow-handles
flew Grasson, head first. "That settles
it!" he exclaimed as he picked himself up from the furrow and examined his
bruises. "I am going to
Unhitching his horses, he left the plow standing
exactly where it stuck. One doubt still lingered. Would Emilia
Satisfied with her decision, Grasson bought a relinquished claim with a cabin standing on it, two and a half miles from Humboldt, on Owl Creek, for all early settlers settled on streams and rivers preferably, because of watersupply and shade trees. Then he journeyed back to Franklin Country to sell his farm and bring his two sons to their new home.
Waving a final good-bye to the family in
Finally after several railroad changes, on
crossing the ferry from Wellston to
More excitement awaited them at
On to Humboldt they drove, a hamlet of few houses then. Here a sacked town and the charred ruins of the water-mill stared at them. With one settler killed resentment ran high. "Quantrill!" The name struck terror.
Throughout 1863 and 1864 guerrilla fighting waged. Sometimes soldiers of North and South would skirmish. More often, bands of ruffians committed violence for revenge or loot under cover of bitter war hatreds, usually wearing uniforms without authorization. For two years Captain Grasson DeWitt and other able-bodied men of the community served in the militia against them. Repeatedly to scattered homesteads messengers galloped with warnings to beware of guerrillas and Indians under white renegades! When ominous news threatened, at nightfall families slipped out of their homes under cover of darkness to the blockhouse at Humboldt or Belmont, fourteen miles farther.
If time pressed and the warning came too late for the militia to troop together, Captain Grasson would guide his family in the blackness to the timber, half a mile away. There, in order not to betray their hiding place, they would camp without any fire. At dawn someone would steal along through the tall grass to a nearby hilltop to look for signs of ruins where settlers' houses stood. If no column of smoke rose to mark a raid, the family went back to their home for the day.
Month after month dragged on. In their homes people listened at night for the sound of horses' hoofs. At the distant thud, the women rushed their men-folk out into the prairie grass to hide. When the hoofs stopped at a house and a blow of the sabre fell on the door, it was the women of the household who threw open the door. "He's not at home," they answered boldly, framed in the door against the firelight of the hearth. This they had learned to answer after man after man had flung open the door at night, only to slump to the floor with a volley of shots in his body - leaving the women-folk in tears, as hoof-beats grew faint in the darkness.
Once Flavius opened the door. It was a cold wintry evening. Draughts blew through the square muslin-covered holes serving as windows. His father and an uncle were sitting and talking by the fireplace which served for cooking before the days of cookstoves. His mother was putting away the supper dishes while the children played and laughed around their two-room cabin.
"Hark!" his father suddenly called out. "Cavalry!"
Flavius and the others fell silent and tense. They watched their father and uncle grab their rifles and run out the south door. It was so dark that night that Capt. DeWitt stopped by the woodpile and listened. Their uncle ran farther into a large patch of weeds.
Up to the north door dashed the horses. A sword knock on the door! Emilia nodded to Flavius to open.
"Is your father at home?" asked an officer.
"No, he's not," promptly replied Flavius, trying to make himself look taller than nine years.
"Have you been home all day?" came the next question.
"Yes sir," answered Flavius.
"Did you see any Indians pass by?"
"Yes, six," responded Flavius, wondering if there was an uprising.
"Did they have any loose horses?" came the query.
"Yes, about twenty."
"Where did they cross Owl Creek?" demanded the man, looking at Flavius sharply.
"At Foster's Ford," instantly replied Flavius.
An order rang out sharply, and the horsemen wheeled in the direction of the Ford. "The Indians stole the horses from our soldiers at Humboldt," shouted the officer over his shoulder to Flavius, as the band disappeared in the night.
What relief to know that this time the friendly
soldiers of the
The very first time that Flavius and little Charles ever saw indians, three big braves were stalking toward their house. Flavius hid in the grass and Charles jumped into the lye hopper. Only four, it easily hid him. Closer came the steps. His heart beat loud. Then a shadow blackened out the sun. A great, tall Indian with feathered head-gear was gazing down at him, chuckling away, his shoulders heaving with laughter. Little Charles understood that the Indian knew he was afraid! After that, the boys were not afraid of Indians.
The Indians had their own reasons for keeping on good terms with the settlers and the militia, for that matter. Once, 3,500 camped two miles from the DeWitt's. Somewhat perturbed, since few soldiers of the regular troops were stationed at the fort just then, a delegation of settlers paid a ceremonial visit to learn the reason for the encampment. The Indians had come to the white men as allies, for safety! The Confederates had threatened them for furnishing troops to the Federal Army! Good-looking troops they were too, and good soldiers.
Other critical problems faced the early
Of these the buffalo hunt was a community affair.
Grandfather Webb was always chosen leader, for he was a mighty hunter, sprung
Besides his own family to provide for, Grasson kept a brotherly eye on his oldest sister, Eleanor
Jane, and her four children, who homesteaded in 1864 on a ranch nearby on Owl
Creek; and on his youngest sister,
Not money but the corn crop was the safest guarantee against starvation. That insured cornbread and cornmeal mush-if storms or blizzards did not prevent carrying one's corn to the nearest grist-mill at Leroy, sixteen miles away.
Once after Eleanor Jane had forded the
"It was fool-hardy," reproached a neighbor. "You might have drowned!"
"A mother's first concern," she replied simply, "is her children. Mine were alone across the river."
Even such a simple task as the family laundry
meant risk with wells scarce at first, and grass waist-high to the river banks.
Usually the women walked down together for safety's sake as well as to help
each other and to visit. One day, when
As life settled down after the War, Captain DeWitt
took an active part in public issues. Elected
Next to surveying, schools interested him deeply.
He had taught in
But his interest was not merely academic. How could it be when his oldest son, Flavius, came home from the first log-cabin school with his feet frost-bitten in the class-room one bitter winter day? The fireplace simply would not heat the room properly in spite of all that his teacher, Miss Deborah Gilbert, could do in piling on logs with the aid of the bigger boys.
Obviously a new and real school-building was needed! Imagine how the mothers and fathers felt, knowing that their youngsters were squirming to hold themselves erect without any backrest on a long bench, merely a slab of wood planed fairly smooth on top, with stakes for legs driven into a two-inch auger hole in the floor! To practice penmanship, they stood. In relays Miss Deborah sent them to the one desk running along a wall, a large slab of wood planed smooth on the top side, supported by stakes fitted into the log side-wall like brackets.
But equipment is not learning, and a Mark Hopkins on one. end of a log with a pupil on the other may be defined as a university. So it is not surprising to find that the record of Flavius as a man shows he received good instruction. At eighty-five, writes Flavius: "Now, pupils have nine months of school each year while we had only three or four, and a little later, about 1870, we were wonderfully pleased to have as much as six months each year. We did not have as many fringes to our education as today, but we had the real groundwork, and our penmanship was better."
Nevertheless, frost-bitten feet are stubborn facts. Within two years of starting the school, Captain DeWitt and the other parents had an adequate school building erected.
Then as today, parents occasionally criticized. When Emma DeWitt was old enough to teach, in stalked a domineering old woman one day with a revolver to protest against a ruling of the Trustees. Shaking the pistol under Emma's nose before the startled class, she shouted, "There you be, sitting like a queen on a thorn, dictating to my little gal!" Emma's "thorn" was the joke of the family thereafter.
Though settlers' homes spread out thin on the
prairies, plenty of children grew up right in Captain DeWitt's home. Fourteen
of them lived to marry, vigorous and strong. Four more slipped away as babies. Emilia, Grasson's wife, died when
her eighth baby came, and Jenny, his second wife, when her second child
arrived. So Rebecca Hite, his third, a former school teacher from
Life with father was such a joyous adventure in
that home that his grandchildren, too, eagerly maneuvered to visit him. On
Sundays they loved to go with him to the
If, late to breakfast, any tried to sneak in unobserved after the blessing, he would lay down his knife and fork and gaze at the offender. Then in a loud voice full of dramatic inflections, he would exclaim, "Another little DeWitt early riser!" Picking up knife and fork, he would go on eating. Stung by the rebuke, each little DeWitt would hang his head, resolving not to let it happen again. But Sundays always saw a perfect score for breakfast. That day, biscuit from white flour was served, when white flour cost from six to eight dollars a hundred pounds. Other days, cornbread came to the table.
That their father was a man of integrity, his
children well knew. They grew up in a home where county and state problems were
intimately discussed, for he served as
No wonder that eight of his children became
teachers as did many of his grandchildren in public schools and universities at
home and abroad, one of them as Superintendent of the Indian School of the Sac
and Fox reservation, another in the Philippines, and another in China. Among
them are a Presbyterian minister and a Presbyterian missionary, business and
professional men, and ranch owners in
WITH REUBEN DAVIS
In 1887 the call to adventure came from a new
This time came the call not to a young man but to
one of 64, Reuben Davis. One might think he had earned the right to stay on his
Shortly after his return, he took charge of the Old homestead that his mother, Mary Allison Davis, might have the protection of one of her children. There he had built a spacious farmhouse with one very large room on the ground floor especially adapted for his mother. There he brought up his children.
But he was one of the rugged, independent
characters who see far ahead of the daily grind. His was a vision of the future
Then in 1882 when his pioneer mother died at the age of 93, it was his insight into the adventure of pioneering in government, education, and organized religious life, his understanding of the ideals pioneers transmuted into realities, and his admiration for their initiative and endurance that made him bring up to date old records of the family, preserving traditions of the past iSO years. This account he printed and sent to all the heads of the many family units of his mother's twelve children, an account that unified the family during the following fifty years.
In 1887 at the age of 64 he had around him at home
his wife, Anne Sturman, and his twelve-year-old son,
Bob. All the other children had left home for teaching careers, a profession
his daughters continued till marriage, one son until he became an editor in
By covered wagon Reuben and Bob travelled. Twelve miles southwest of
Dirt floors the half-dugout had, over which straw was spread and above that a rag carpet or matting laid. An ever present current of air caused the carpet to balloon in the center. The tread was a queer sensation!
Later they built their dugout or storm cellar five feet deep, and a sod house entirely above ground with two rooms and full-length windows of luxurious glass. This was the home to which they brought Anne Sturman a few months later when they met her train at Garden City, forty miles north, their nearest trading post. Here they lived for five years, until lumber could be imported for a real frame house, or a house bought and moved from the claim of some discouraged, departing settler, who hitched up and left after one lost crop.
Grim and desperate were those early years. Very cruel was the first winter, thirty degrees below zero in January! Chickens were frozen, cows and horses lost ears or life. Then when the March sun tempted the prairies to flaunt green grass, there rode in from the north a raging blizzard. It took tough fibre to face that first year and challenge impending defeat to turn into victory!
Even more cruel the next summer was the prairie fire. As a fire-guard, Reuben and Bob had plowed a ten-foot strip around the fields in which the buildings stood. But never can Bob forget the great, brownish copper-colored cloud, boiling up one day on the southwest horizon! Grass afire! Their neighbors doomed! Settler after settler, dotted sparsely over those vast spaces, saw with horror the warning flung wide across the sky! Everyone who owned a waterwagon raced to aid their distant neighbors. Finally the fire was conquered.
After Anne and Reuben had settled down, four daughters and a son came out to teach and file claims to 160 acres apiece. In a gay, challenging mood, Amelia named her sod house, "Desolation!" The landscape looked it! Sod house, level prairie, short-grass, sky!
Today as one motors over the vast open prairies, still the pioneer pattern persists! Vast expanses of level land for a thousand miles; a vast expanse of sky with a panorama of clouds drifting slowly from horizon to horizon against the deep blue; at long intervals a small frame house surrounded by a tree-brake against snow and storm; off to one side a square ten-mile acre of trees! Never-ending seems the pattern save as one's eye follows at rare intervals a narrow water-course thinly outlined by trees and bushes. For three days one may motor in this vastness of skyland and slowly ascending plateau before one sees the foothills rolling up to the Rockies.
might call it in bravado! But the gay, courageous spirit within ran as high as
any in the country. A vision burned in every pioneer heart: a vision of giant
fields under cultivation to become the granary of
It was Bob who noticed, one spring day of 1888,
what looked like rye. He carried it to his father. His father saw the significance:
It was prosperity earned by time, patience, and endurance, a great trinity of power for men.
When Bob was a boy, there was no bread unless his mother baked it in the pipe-oven of a "monkey stove" with "cow-chips" for fuel or dried stalks of corn or cane or corn cobs. There was no butter unless Bob churned it as one of his chores, no meat unless his father killed, cut, and cured it, for grocery and butcher-shops were two days' journey away and two back, money scarce, and prices exorbitant. There was no water for five years unless hauled from a hand-dug well 217 feet deep, a mile and a half away. Often Bob drove a team of horses or slow-plodding oxen to the well, and lowered a long rope at the end of which dangled a fifteen-gallon keg. That filled through a bottom valve, and the horses or oxen pulled it up.
Nor was the sod schoolhouse always the most comfortable place to study. Out on the prairies insects were the worst enemy! Much worse were they than the gray wolves and bob-cats at night or the coyotes' howling. Much worse were they than the fine herd of 75 to 80 antelopes he skirted mornings on his way to school. The worst imp of all the insects was the flea, bred from preying upon innumerable ground squirrels and jack rabbits. When fleas became too pestiferous in the sod walls, down came the sod schoolhouse to be burned, and up went a new one.
Bob's house had glass panes in the windows. That was rather swanky forty miles from the railroad. Most of the settlers in the early days tacked white muslin over their window-frames. Soap the women made from the soap-weed, or yucca, mixing the root with ashes for lye. Very useful was the yucca, for its leaves could be braided into hats for men and women.
Going into town was the greatest treat prairie
children had. On Decoration Day and Fourth of July all the families around
drove the 12 miles to
If the March blizzard of 1888 was bad in
Before noon, the sky turned murky brown. The sun looked like a full moon in a yellow fog. "Children" said the teacher, it's only 11 o'clock. But eat your lunches quickly! A blizzard is coming! You must rush home. If home is too far, go to the nearest house. Hurry! Hurry!"
Reuben's grandchildren gulped down their lunches and rushed out of the door towards home with the others. "Hurry! Remember to go into the nearest house when snow begins to fall!" called the teacher after them.
But before they had gone far, the wind shifted to the north. A few seconds more, and a hurricane was upon them! Huddling into a bunch, they wound their arms around each other to keep from blowing away. Dust and dirty dry snow pelted them like needles. Their Aunt Celeste's house was only a few hundred yards away. Slowly the whole group pushed ahead to the driveway, battered one way and another by the wind, almost losing their grip on one another Huddling closer, pushing and struggling a few inches at time, stopping for breath for one more effort, encouraging each other, finally they made the driveway. So dark was it that they could not have seen their way if the lights in the house had not guided them.
Once inside, the children were first counted to see that none in the group were lost, and at once rubbed and given warm drinks. Then all lights were blown out as a safety measure. This was no time to risk a fire! Down to zero the temperature catapulted. The wind shrieked around the corners of the house. Windows rattled. A fine powdered snow sifted into the rooms.
During the afternoon, the fathers of neighboring children came, bundled up so that their own youngsters could not recognize them except by their voices. They brought comforts to wrap over and around their youngsters for the trip home. Grandfather Reuben also came in, stamping off the snow, glad he had supplies for the next week.
By morning the ground was far beneath the snow, and drifts over the fences. For three weeks there was no school. Deep snow and cold held all indoors. Milking was a terrible chore. Many lost stock. Only around a cozy fire was it warm. In the bedrooms noses and feet were frost-bitten, and everyone had colds.
One compensation that three-week period of near-zero weather brought-the mirage! Each morning came a thrill! Distance was erased by magic. But with the rising sun, all vanished, leaving each household alone again in a vast field of snow.
Cowboy stories, too, Bob heard, and occasionally when older he rode with some cowboys he knew and listened to their songs. The picturesque round-up he often saw in the cow-country that stretched southwest of his wheatland home for hundreds of miles.
Once a year the owners cooperated to identify their stock and select for the market. As the day approached, the cowboys would make great circles on horseback, around the cows, driving them slowly to the center of the grazing grounds. Then as the herds came in, the calves would follow the mothers to the branding pens, there to be marked with brands, some registered in brand- books dating from colonial days.
The yearlings would be cut out from the herd of
Short-horns, Polled Angus, Herefords, and
With responsibility over, into cowtowns
the boys would gallop, there often to gamble their earnings away, and sometimes
to shoot each other down as if law and order did not exist!
When finally sufficient settlers came to southwest
After the railroad had come, one day Reuben Davis
and Anne Sturman took a 400-mile trip to a
"By the light of the big moon hanging like a lantern in an open sky," writes a granddaughter, "two children sped along a high sidewalk toward their cottage home.
"Here they stopped in amazement, for upon the steps where they usually found mother was an old man with long gray whiskers. Hand in hand they went slowly forward, each step slower than the one before. No one else was in sight!
"'Are you Moses?' asked the little girl.
"'No,' replied the old gentleman, 'I am Elijah.'
"'Oh, I know! You are my grandfather and your name is Reuben,' exclaimed the small boy, ''cause my name is the same!'
"Laughingly the old man answered, 'You got me there, boy. Your mother and grandmother are inside. Run along in if you wish.'
"But the little girl crept to his side. 'Tell me a story about you and Elijah,' she begged. And the old man replied, 'My child, 'tis true. All my life I have fed on the crumbs because I never wanted to be a Moses, but don't let Ma hear you say that, for we have never agreed on that subject.'
"Thus I met Reuben Davis, who was then past
seventy. His hands sho6k with palsy, his body was wracked with, life's
struggles. But there was a twinkle in his eye which the shaggy, over-hung
eyebrow could not hide. He was one of the great characters who see the vision
beckoning far above the daily round, and with deed upon deed build
WITH BOB IN
Fifty-two years went by. Bob was 64. As for his father, so for him, at 64 life began anew! The Spectre of the Dust Bowl hung over the landscape shrouded in a pall that turned day into night!
Against his memory of settling on the prairie at 12 in high hope so generously fulfilled for fifty years, there flashed the withering picture of the desolation of 1939- real desolation.
Land drying up after ten years of little rain and dwindling subterranean streams, soil driven like light flakes in high banks against breaks meant to hold back the snow that rarely falls, trees and cattle dying, the people deserting the land! What of the pioneer vision now?
"Poor type of citizens, hirelings of success,
to scuttle away in face of this!" he exclaimed with fierce scorn.
"They have no love for the
On he talked, his fiery denunciation of dwindling recent settlers mingled with praise for the old pioneers still standing by. Tremendous convictions on the real values of life were punctuated with a bubbling sense of humor and a contagious laugh at the humorous side of life in a dust-bowl.
Seated in the home he owns, a house stripped of paint cut off by the sharp wind-hurled dirt, he pointed at doors and windows weather-stripped always, and in the blows packed with wet paper. Yet in spite of such precautions his daughter can sweep up two pounds of good soil in two rooms after a medium blow.
"God meant pioneers to earn their livelihood in many ways," he continued, "and not to be too particular which way at any time so long as it's honest. Master one way and be as proficient in as many others as you can! And above all, don't be afraid to be a servant one day even if you have been a master the day before!"
Then followed a story of a nephew, owner of 400 acres once fertile, equipped with the most modern machinery and plenty of man-power. Today that acreage is a worthless dust-heap, blown hither and yon like chaff. Once that nephew had a side-business of agricultural machinery. Today he holds between $20,000 and $25,000 worth of notes due to him but unpayable.
"And today he is a servant," continued
the father. "His master is his own best friend and cousin, a man once in
dept to him. Twenty-four hours a day they work on a caterpillar tractor that
never stops, night or day, in rebuilding
"And today I am a servant," he said.
"Twice in my life God has guided me in such a signal way that I could not
doubt. He directed me to leave the land for the
A simple, friendly way he worked out, a manly way as man to man. To the sick and homeless he opened his home till health and work could be attained - on condition of a certain pledge. To those without work and penniless, he loaned small amounts in slack periods on their word of honor without interest-on condition of that same pledge. That pledge was a promise to search for work, to accept the first honest work found, and never to go on relief!
If his own salary was exhausted before the end of
the month, as sometimes happened, the local bank would loan him the necessary
amount on his personal note without an endorser, knowing the purpose of the
loan was to maintain community morale. "I have always paid my notes when
due," he ended, "and the men have always paid their debts as soon as
they found the next honest job. But I never could see why the bank would lend
me money without an endorser," he mused thoughtfully. "What? 'Magnificent piece of citizenship?' No, just pioneer
friendship! The men were worth it. Those who stay on the land have it in them
to be pioneers still! They know how to love the
And today, according to government reports, part of that dust bowl "stands so high with corn and wheat that it laughs and sings" to mishandle the Psalmist's phrase.
To Bob, friendship carried within it an implication to maintain enterprise and initiative in others as in himself, and to stand by in adversity without pauperizing a fellow man or lowering his respect. No farther away than his own community he found the resources and like-minded men to cooperate for the morale of the town. And that is part of the meaning of democracy, the meaning of Americanism.
"I am among you as one who serves," runs a paradox of the Master, himself a pioneer. Was it because He well knew that the man who can with equal grace be master and servant derives the power from an intuition of the simplicity of the soul, a love for craftsmanship in all types of work, joy in "the wind that bloweth" and "the flower that fadeth," and a loyalty to one's neighbor as to oneself?
At seventeen the bride of a pioneer, Alice
Victoria bade good-bye to her father, Captain Grasson
DeWitt, and the family home on Owl Creek near Humboldt, to board a train for
Texas on her wedding trip with Jairus Preston Beck.
He had already pioneered at sixteen from
At twenty he entered with her the Lone Star State
with its thirty years under the Stars and Stripes still slumbering under the
Spanish and Mexican spirit of manana, and with
scarcely one inhabitant to the square mile of its stupendous legth and breadth. As far as
From the beginning he dared the impossible in the
teeth of a prophecy of defeat from old-timers. He built his house not as they
advised-along the river bank with acreage for farming in the low bottoms.
Instead, he and Alice selected a homesite on a hill
surrounded by their 150 acres of prairie land, bought at $4 an acre. To buy
lumber sufficient for a two-room house, he drove an ox-team to
Scarcely had the little house been completed than
spring-planting time arrived. With only primitive plows, the neighbors had
never heard of breaking new land and planting a crop immediately. One year, at
least, they worked their acres before seeding. But Jairus
had purchased the first sulky plow in
With his 100 acres seeded, came the problem of
fencing it to keep out the cattle of the ranchmen, accustomed to having their
great herds roam over the prairies at will and reach water holes in any
direction. Jairus Beck was an aggravation to them
with his continuous five mile trips to
Even in the first few busy months, Jairus took time out to join all the men in building the first community schoolhouse, to be used, also, for social gatherings and church services. There in the years following, they took part in the pie suppers, spelling bees, and square dances, driving miles in an open wagon-equipped, after eighteen months, with quilts and blankets like those of their neighbors! Then their first baby, a son, could sleep comfortably as other children did, while the men took turns standing guard over the sleeping kindergarten, and the rest took part in the business and fun of community life.
Many topics they touched upon at those social events, and many thrilling stories they heard. There they
met Mrs. Koozer, a captive of the Indians for five
days. The raiding Indian band had made her drive her horse repeatedly through a
raging river to ferry across, one by one the horseless Indians of their party,
riding behind her on her horse. Once, when the Indians were camping, she
escaped and hid in the bushes. But they found her and would have beaten her to death, had not a brave interfered to save her life, when
consciousness was almost gone. Meantime the State Indian Scouts from
Then Mr. Piper, a neighbor, frequently repeated the exciting tale of the last swift broncho riders, dashing from settler to settler to warn of Indians coming, only two years before Jairus and Alice arriyed. With his sons, Mr. Piper rode pell-mell to round up his big herd of horses and drive them into the corrals before the Indians could overtake them. But back in the distance they saw an approaching cloud of dust. The faster they urged the horses the faster the cloud neared them until the shape of horsemen confirmed their fears. Horse after horse dropped out with the pace
"Let them go!" yelled Mr. Piper to his sons. "Rush the rest!"
The pursuing horsemen gained. At last their equipment and riding became visible. It was the Indian Scout Troop thinking the Pipers were Indians stealing the herd, and trying to stop them!
Mr. Piper's buildings and herd were spared but many other settlers saw their homes go up in flames that day, and their horses and cattle driven away.
Finally with his ranch running smoothly, Jairus aroused the community on the subject of roads. He
had reason to.
Saddling his horse one day, Jairus
made the rounds to call on every settler between his home and
But when it came to a bridge over
The biggest obstacle in 1878, however, and for
many years afterwards, was the cattle rustler. Outlaws and fugitives from other
states, the rustlers were mostly. Across the Red River from the mdi n Territory they would come wildly galloping on their
raids, round up the cattle on the
Ten years passed. The little two-room cottage gave place to a large, ten-room white house gracing the hill-top, with a lane bordered by cedar trees leading to the main road, a quarter of a mile away. From that house they saw their three sons and their daughter marry. There they watched the country develop.
At 65, Jairus could have
retired to a life of leisure with
Today Jairus and Alice are 85 and 82. Still burns within them the old fervor of the pioneer spirit! Did Ponce de Leon, in searching for the fountain of eternal youth, not know that its spirit lies in pioneering?
To live 75 miles from a railroad in early Colorado days on a 500 acre apple and cherry ranch might in itself seem pioneering with no electricity, telephone, or telegraph, and mail once a week. But four children, a husband and hired men to feed should keep a woman too busy to care perhaps, one might think. Then came the real test to Alice Parmley Boom. A doctor's order to give up her sheltered life as mother and wife to cure her T. B.! And what a prescription he gave her: an outdoor life of activity away away from home!
Picture her driving four horses and a truck, hauling freight 75 miles to the railroad! Three and a half days it took each way, with six nights at boarding houses on the road and one night at home a week. Through blizzards at 14 degrees below zero she drove with a lighted lantern in the bearskin rugs about her feet, and silk-lined bearskin gloves on her hands. Through pelting rain or heat, winter and summer, when roads were little more than trails over grass and rocks except when they followed stream-beds and splashed through water and over boulders and pebble-strewn bottoms! When the trail led through precipitous mountains along a ledge with steep walls of rock on one side and a ravine on the other, one groove for the off-wheels would be cut into the rock, and the inside wheels could wander amiably where possible. It was a one-way trail at that, with turn-outs. Truck horses were belled by regulation. Intently the drivers listened for other bells, warning one to stop at the nearest turn-out.
The worst day of the whole "cure" for her was the second day of a blizzard one terrible winter. At breakfast in the boarding-house she sat listening to the talk of other freight drivers. It was suicide to attempt driving, they were saying. The iron rims of the wheels would skid over the icy rocks and bog in the drifts. One man announced his intention to stay over until the snow stopped, and then hire a crew to cut, at dangerous spots in the ice, ruts deep enough to prevent wheels from slipping. He did. It was three days before he reached home!
As she rose from the breakfast table, the inn-keeper asked her to step into his private office. "I saw you take in what the men were saying," he ventured. "Do you want to get home tonight?"
"I must," she replied. "My husband and children will worry if I don't."
"For three years I have watched you drive," he continued, "and I know you can handle your horses as few people can. If you have the nerve to carry out a tip I can give you, I believe you can reach home tonight." Then he explained in detail a daring but sure way around icy mountain curves.
Off she started with her father-in-law against the protest of men shaking their heads lugubriously at the window - all except the inn-keeper.
Where possible she let the horses feel out the trail themselves, old timers as they were. But at mountain curves she literally held the whip-hand. At the first one, furiously she whipped the lead off-horse as if she were going to kill him, just as her mentor had directed. Around the curve he dashed, wildly pushing the near horse against the protecting mountain wall. Safe! As they rounded the first bend, she dared steal one glance at the rear off-wheel. It was swinging out over the precipice as she had been warned! But back it came on the trail. After that, she dared not look backwards. But she did not need to. The tip worked!
Twenty miles from home she met her husband with a team coming to look for her.
At the end of four years the doctor pronounced her cured. Today, seeing her a buxom and matronly figure with her grandchildren around, one is amazed at the efficacy of the doctor's prescription. It worked! Nor did the family unity suffer. She is the adored advisor of the family circle.
Years after the "cure", she returned her
indebtedness to a man for the tip, by giving a tip to men on how to stack oats.
The First World War was on. The oat crop had been prolific in
There flashed through her mind a scene in an
"Of course, daddy," she had exclaimed, running over to him. And the rest of the day she had stacked oats as he lay on the ground supervising her.
"I'll show you," she said to her husband. But it was twenty-four hours before he would let her try! Then she put up seven stacks in the presence of the owners of the neighboring ranches. They took a picture of the scene to present to her. "To think," they commented, "a woman would have to show us that!"
Her husband as a boy had also known pioneer life.
Eighteen miles he used to drive an ox-cart to what is now
Many Indians used to pass by his home, most of them friendly, some hostile. But they all called his Scotch mother, Rachel Buchanon, "The Great White Mother" and made a point to call upon her and eat the soup she always had ready for them in the pot by the fireplace. She was influential with them because they trusted her. She trusted them.
The Oil Boom 1914
One hundred thousand people milling around four
points on northern
Flavius DeWitt made that rush with his
brother-in-law behind a good team of ponies. On they headed to the
Before the Rush, Flavius and his family had lived
Ten days before the Run, Flavius and his brother-in.law left home for the registration booth at
They joined the rear of the double line stretching away from the booth. In the boiling sun and dust raised by thousands of feet, they waited three days and a half before their turn came to enter the booth, watching many faint with the heat and one die. In fact, Flavius fainted one day just as he reached camp. But the inborn American genius of organization tackled the situation. The long lines organ. ized into squads of ten with a captain who knew the narnes and location of his men. Thereafter, nine out of ten could relax until their names were called for registration.
One other difficulty they tackled, too. Word was passed down the line that some slackers, to avoid the long wait, were bribing the soldier, stationed on duty at the entrance of the booth, from three to five dollars to slip them through, the door out of turn.
The people in line sent word to the clerks to stop the practice or they would tear down the booth! With but few clerks and soldiers against thousands of applicants, nearly all armed, the trouble at once ceased. In reality the people showed typical American humor and common sense in handling the situation by a straight-talking delegation instead of by rioting.
On the day of the Race, Flavius saw tragic and
humorous episodes by the score. Everyone had some exciting adventure to tell
afterwards in that rushing throng flooding over five and a half million acres.
One shrewd old-timer beside at the start had only oxen and a plow. Everyone
around speculated how far he would get with that equipment in a race to the
swift. At the pistol shot, calmly he stepped over the line, put his plowshare
into the earth, and began to plow! His claim was allowed a few days later when
he turned up at the Land Office with his registration slip. Two wagons near
Flavius were overturned by the madly surging crowd and the occupants killed.
Many there were who turned back the same day, shaking the dust of
The real testing time came after claims were filed in the Land Offices at $1.50 per acre-sometimes after law suits with several claimants! Then people faced the problem of shelter, food, and work. Flavius and his family were no exception. Aside from the equipment he carried in, he had exactly two pennies in money. Housing was solved by living with his brother-in-law about a mile and a half from his claim. Food was partly solved by trading a pony for two young cows to furnish milk and butter. Income he solved by giving in winter time a two-hour entertaining lecture with a magic lantern and 100 slides on a round-the- world trip. However hard the times in the beginning years, people were always ready to pay for entertainment, and rapidly built schoolhouses and churches that opened to him. In his education and ability to lecture he was fortunate at a time when settlers searched for work at 25 and 50 cents a day and often went hungry. In summers he farmed and raised crops.
Food, however, was not a matter of cash in the pioneering stage; it was a matter of crops and resources to handle them. Flavius had to see his family go three weeks without bread because no mills had been built and the nearest railroad from which to haul provisions was forty miles away. They lived those three weeks on Kaflir corn meal, made by grinding Kallir corn in an old hand coffee mill. He has never liked Kaffir bread since! Meats and fruits, too, the few provision stores were short of. "We now sometimes wonder how we managed to live through," he writes, "but oftener wish more pioneering could be done!"
Four new dangers faced the settlers coming from settled communities with law and order long established. The least was wild animals. Cougars, bears, and coyotes molested their live stock and chickens, and deer ate their tender young crops, while rattlesnakes, ten feet long, often with fangs an inch long, made walking dangerous. A second threat was prairie fires. At first, settlers unaccustomed to prairies neglected to watch their open campfires and some times burned out their neighbors as well as themselves.
Several times, too, Indians threatened them. On
the claim adjoining that of Flavius, two to three hundred
Down on the Agency Cantonment, however, about 16
miles southwest on the North Canadian River, the Arapahoes
The fourth danger, the settlers faced about two years after their arrival. Outlaws began to be troublesome. It was their last frontier. "They would ride up to a settler's house or dug-out and demand a meal," writes Flavius. "After that was given them, they would seize coffee, meat, or any extra food in the house they wanted. If they needed a horse or saddle, they would take any that suited them. The settlers, of course, would not submit to this. They organized either to kill or run the outlaws out of the country. Those that gave us most trouble were Yeager, Black, Shoemaker, Freeman, and Tobe. They killed two or three settlers before the settlers finally ran them down and killed them." So here, as on some other frontiers, vigilantes established rough justice until they could establish regular channels of law and order.
THE OIL BOOM: 1914
In 1853 American opinion of oil can be summed up
in this report from a Federal Indian Agent on the Choctaw "oil
springs" located in what is now
"The oil springs in this nation are attracting considerable attention, as they are said to be a remedy for all chronic diseases. Rheumatism stands no chance at all, and the worst cases of dropsy yield to its effects. The fact is that it cures everything that has been tried."
About 40 years later in March, 1897, the first
drilled oil well came in, 150 barrels a day from a depth of 1400 feet, at
But not until March, 1912, was the boom on. Then
with a roar the Cushing Pool came in, flooding the fields around. The day
after, the population of the town of
Two years after Drumright boomed, arrived Anne Fares and her husband, Sidney Busby, in 1914, then married one year. She was a granddaughter of Sophia Davis Sturman and a great-granddaughter of Mary Allison Davis. To Sid, Drumright seemed a good opening for photography. Here was an opportunity to record in pictures pioneering in the making!
They found no sanitation or health officer, no water except private wells, no adequate police force, no provision for the sudden expansion of population. In dry weather what passed for streets was sprinkled with oil so heavily that no housewife dared use carpets to be ruined in a day by foot tracks. In wet weather a plank served as sidewalk or crosswalk over mud and oil, ankle deep, and horses struggled to pull their loads out of oily ruts and holes. Through that slippery muck it was a common sight to see a little horse-drawn wagon joggling along with a load of nitro-glycerine for the fields to "shoot wells"-a load sufficient to blow up the whole town and everyone in it, had the devil-may-care driver met bad luck.
Very fortunate were Anne and Sid to secure a "good room" in Drumright where houses were unobtainable and where the standard price for every conceivable space called a room was $40 a month. Their room was on the ground floor in the hotel, an end front4oom, opening on the piazza. Though a new hotel, it was a ram-shackle affair with merely planks to separate rooms around, above, and below. If one wanted to know what was going on in the next room, a knot-hole was handy. If the occupant above spilled water from his pitcher, down it came between the planks into the room below.
Several times a week a horse sale was staged in the very doorway of that room, with a crowd of men reaching into the street. Many a time Sid tried to warn off the porch the drunks with their swearing and rough talk, but either they paid no heed or wanted to fight. Once Anne had better luck. A crash made her spring to the door. An intoxicated driver had knocked the supports from under her end of the piazza, tipping it at such a crazy angle that a drunken man went rolling its length into the mud. Catching sight of Anne at the door, he conjectured that his plight was due to some playful prank of hers! "Hello, kid," he stammered sweetly, throwing her a smile.
Fights were frequent, so frequent that even if a policeman chanced along, he let the contestants settle their own squabbles. Once two burly oil workers staged a fist fight right across the street from Anne's room, in front of the town's one and only bank. So furiously did they belabor each other that a larger crowd than usual jostled and milled about yelling encouragement. Some onlookers even scrambled to the roofs of nearby buildings for a better view of be affray, Sid among them to take a picture. Unfortunately the bank, like the other buildings, was a frail structure of flat boards nailed to 2x4 studs, never designed as a retaining wall against a torrent of on-rushers. It gave way. When the battle was over, the entire front of the bank was a wreck.
Fist fights provided a longer and more sustained amusement than gun fights. Gunplay was over too quickly. So usual a part of the day's routine were pistol shots that nobody paid much attention to them except to note if six went off rapidly together. That was the fire signal. But a lone shot or two?
Well, there was a feud between the county sheriff and the Drumright chief-of-police while Anne and Sid lived there. One day when the sheriff happened to be in town, he met the chief-of-police on the street. After a few words they parted. At once the sheriff stepped into a drug store and asked for a rifle, saying he wanted to shoot a skunk and was afraid his revolver would miss at long distance. Out he stepped with his borrowed rifle, took aim at the Chief walking across the street, and shot him in the back, dead. No one tried to bring him to justice then-though a few years after, he was hanged for another offense when his term expired. Gun deaths were common. Of course gambling, liquor, women, and crime flourished, especially at "Over the Hump," where night-life blazed.
But if six rapid shots signalled fire, the whole town forgot its differences and turned out as one man with whatever was at hand to fight fire. Terrible sights, those fires! After a violent electric storm one day, thirteen tanks burned at once. Each held 55,000 barrels of oil. For almost twentyfour hours they blazed until the sides of the tanks melted with the heat, the boiling oil rolled out, flooding the land around and the flames hit the sky! At mid-day, so dense was the smoke that one could look at the sun with naked eye. Sid photographed it. Afterwards it was sad to see men dragging themselves around, swathed in bandages like mummies from burns.
Explosions there were too. One night, several hundred quarts of TNT exploded in a warehouse several miles from town. Not a splinter of the storehouse was left. Where it had stood, only a big hole stared in the ground. Windows and dishes were shattered all over Drumright. Gas wells frequently exploded in the early days of the boom when proper storage was unknown. Often gas would be led off in pipes merely to escape in the air. One morning, Drumright awoke to find their creek afire! A gas line, ending in the middle of the stream-bed, had ignited, and the flames burst right up through the water! At that period, when men did not know how to cope with oil and gas hazards, fire insurance was refused to Drumright.
It was photographs of such sights that Sid took, photographs printed in newspapers and sold by the scores to townspeople to send to their home folks. Until he could afford to buy a Ford, to take those pictures meant walking as much as 12 and 15 miles a day in blistering hot weather, carrying his photographic equipment. Many times he was nearly ready to collapse on reaching home. At night his dveloping had to be done with loads of ice in the fixing bath to prevent the gelatine coating on plates, and films from running all over the place, ruining his day's work.
Six trying months they lived in their hotel room, partitioned off for living quarters in the rear, and photographic studio in front. Though on starting they ate off a trunk for lack of money to buy a table, at the end of six months they had saved enough money to buy more photographic equipment, and a lot on which to build a house and shop! Sid had been right in his choice of a town to start a photographic career. Drumright gave them what they asked for, an opportunity to prove their mettle. Besides, they were young and could laugh.
Anne did her share in the shop when Sid was out tramping the fields to take pictures of oil workers, wells, tanks, and bits of local color. Though at first she knew nothing about photography, she valiantly "took a picture," secured the deposit on the transaction to insure the customer's return, and waited for Sid to make an appointment for an honest-to-goodness photo if her negative were terrible, as usually in the beginning it was! Honest and fair in their dealings they were, and artistic in their work. They built up a good business between them, and made many friends. Along in the afternoon when Anne served tea, their studio was a rendezvous for sometimes as many as forty people at once, a sundry lot from minister, town clerk, and club women to oil hands and gamblers. But a friendly and democratic group it was.
Even boiling water for tea was not as easy as it sounds, nor cooking when the new house was finished. Because natural gas was the town's source of heating, lighting, and cooking, results depended on flow of gas and pressure. That meant some days of freezing in spite of all the wraps one could bundle on, cold victuals to eat, and lights dimming and flaring, as well as days when life ran smoothly.
Finally the town righted itself the American way, with the studio as the setting of much of the interchange of thought leading to action. It was the women who led off. They organized a Civic League of which Anne was secretary the first year and President the second. They secured and equipped a playground for children, opened with a parade, band, and speeches to rally civic pride. They initiated an empty stocking Christmas fund and supplied warm clothing and toys for Christmas baskets. A Humane Society for oyer-taxed horses, and music and literary clubs followed. When the project was broached to buy a horse-drawn fire engine, the whole community rallied with Sid to direct and act a leading part in a play because of his theatrical experience, and Anne also taking a part. Ably the women supported the men, also, in founding churches, Sunday-schools, and securing good town administration. In all, Drumright is a typical boom town that transformed itself because the people asserted their American heritage of government, church, school, and culture.
Says Glasscock in his book, Then Oil Came, "Oil has built great cities - greater than gold has ever built, and apparently more permanent . . Oklahoma offers the most significant illustration of the astonishing effect of oil upon the civilization which produced it . . . Witness the change from the ramshackling towns of Tulsa and Oklahoma City as they were a quarter of a century ago into the great, clean, modern, enviable cities that they are today, combining most of the material advantages of a New York with the still adventurous and democratic spirit of the West, and offering a charm and hospitality suggestive of the old days of the South.
"Oil did that; oil and its accompanying
wealth used to its fullest possibilities by the men who discovered and produced
it . . . No state has built upon oil as
"There, in very truth, oil brought an end to
The last frontier? Is that the signal for pessimism? Is that the signal for a planned economy and regimentation of individuals? Is that the signal for death to individual American initiative and enterprise?
Or is it a challenge to brains? Not an aristocracy of brains but the commonalty of brains! Brains enlisted everywhere, in the home, the factory, the office, and on the farm; brains willing to undergo the stern discipline of studying how to cooperate in eliminating waste and increasing efficiency! Brains that, instead of rejecting, will accept the heritage of the past in order to add to it treasures for the future! Brains that will explore the significance of earth's resources in terms of scientific advance for the social and economic progress of all! Brains combined with "the feeling eye and the seeing heart" that will open the frontiers of genuine democracy of every kind to every human being in this country and the world!
Is it a challenge to the brains, morale, and the pioneering spirit of each American?
DESERT PIONEERING BELOW SEA LEVEL
To pioneers, romance is a pillar of fire by night and a beckoning cloud by day. But who shall tell in what romance consists? A sudden flash of insight into how the seemingly impossible may become possible? An inner urge to transform the lifeless clump into wrought-out beauty? A masterful determination to pit one's strength and patience against one crushing blow after another on days when, if a smile is unattainable, grim persistence is invincible? A conviction that none can fail who is the forerunner of the future? The secret only a pioneer knows who girds himself to blaze a new trail.
Romance there is in the setting also, especially a setting which all the world passes by, a setting so elusive and esoteric that only a mystic Aladdin's lamp can illumine the pearl of great price whose finding is worth a shout.
Such a spot Corley and Luther Echols discovered in
a forsaken valley that even the
A tiny spot in the panorama of the globe that valley is, some 70,000 acres set apart from the world, walled in by mountains stark and bare, multi-colored with all the opalescent, ever-changing mist of the sun's rays reflecting the tints of dust and clay.
At the head of the valley stand four mountain
gateposts, San Gorgonio 12,800 feet high,
Snow falls on these gigantic gateways several months of the year. Melting, it mothers wild streams that dash downward to the valley only to disappear through the light loam into a great rock-bed reservoir, an artesian basin of pure water. When tapped by all the hydraulic ingenuity of man with drills, compressed air, and casings, capriciously it will sally forth so violently that it needs capping, or so coyly that it needs pumping, and sometimes so warm that it needs cooling.
Climate the valley has in plenty, nestling, as it
does, from one hundred to two hundred feet below sea level as if seeking its
ancient sea and shrinking from the snow-clad heights with all its narrow self,
only three to ten miles wide. Except for a bit of the salty, treacherous
The wind that blows where it lists is there a desert variety. Somewhere it springs from outside the valley in the great world, and storms violently through the San Gorgonio Pass, accumulating speed and sand on the way until it gains a volume that wins applause for its fierceness. Imagine trying to live, move, and have one's being in an atmosphere thick with dust, travelling at a breakneck pace! When the blow is on, the houses creak, shake, groan, and sway. When the tumult ceases, the deep blue of the sky and the motionless palms serenely affirm the eternal nature of peace.
Here in the
So charming is the picture that one forgets,
perhaps, how daring the experiment for the Bureau of Plant Industry to import
the romantic date palm from the Old World to the New, and to transplant the
4000-year-old science and culture of dates in Assyria, Persia, and Egypt to a
twentieth century environment. But where find a suitable locality? Could the
In date-producing, Luther found pioneering enough to make a man leave a city with all its pleasures and advantages to spend a life studying the culture, food values, and history of dates. In his sister Corley, he found an enthusiastic and able pioneer, the first and constant inspiration of the enterprise. Since the date palm reaches its prime at one hundred years of age, both knew that on their strength and patience would rest the welfare of generations of American growers to come. With something of the sagacity and foresight of their great-grandmother, Judith Davis Boyls, they proceeded. Theirs was the care of the future!
After buying forty acres of desert land, about
twenty miles below
"A month after the papers were signed giving us possession of our land," says Luther, "Mother and I turned our backs on the city and city ways even before Corley joined us, and started for the land of promise. Mother made the trip first-class by train. I travelled in a box-car with the furniture, lumber for the house, a gravel wagon, and a plow, not to speak of a team of mules, a dog, and a half dozen chickens, all strangers to each other, assembled from the four points of the city just before exodus."
"Although the donkeys had health certificates, one of them contracted a fatal illness, whether car-sickness, homesickness or a special mule malady, I know not. I did my best for her. She died. The day of my arrival I spent with that mule. She upset my plans and made me late in beginning the venture. I have been behind time ever since.
"Mother arrived before I did to find, in the nearest small town, not a vacant house. Nothing daunted, she went out on the first truck of lumber to the ranch, and stood in the sun until the carpenter built a temporary shelter with board sides and a canvas roof. That served as kitchen, dining-room, living-room, and mother's boudoir for a week until torn down for our residence of four rooms, with wire netting for doors and windows, covered by canvas at will.
"The small business of erecting a dwelling over for the time being, I started out to find a mule to go with the one I brought through alive. She was in a pasture several miles away. With no means of transit, I walked the eight miles to town. Buying one mule is like trying to buy one shoe; they generally come in pairs. Unsuccessful on my first shopping expedition, I went to my nearest neighbor and asked to borrow a horse to ride or drive. He proved to be a real neighbor in every sense of the word. I borrowed a horse that day and for two successive trips before I found a mule. Since then I have borrowed almost everything on his place. What I did not borrow from him, I borrowed from my other neighbor, for I had only one implement, a plow, and I couldn't plow with it. Nor could I plow with the new mule at once. She fought with the first one and tore up things around. In time I learned to chaperon the two.
"Next I began clearing the land.
"But that did not leave me without a job. Real pioneering had just begun. The land had to be levelled and a well dug. With water-works achieved on the third of July that first year of 1918, I declared my independence from hauling two barrels of water daily since our arrival in March.
"After the pump and electric motor had been installed and connected, and water was flowing about 300 gallons a minute from 503 feet below, I thought our water supply troubles were at an end. But not so! That pump developed as many ailments as a teething infant. It got hot at one end and then at the other; the power went off; it lost its prime; the belt broke. Finally I coaxed the pump into fairly good humor.
"Then came the novel adventure of introducing the water to a land unacquainted with it for centuries. By patience and much shoveling of ditches, dams, and furrows, I persuaded the light loam to welcome the water instead of promptly speeding it to the reservoir beneath. Later I laid pipe lines and grove hydrants.
"At last the ground was prepared for alfalfa,
From there Corley took over the story. "But haven't we ten stately palms waving their feathery leaves in the breezes, and fifty-one shoots in the nursery?" she wrote in 1919. "No little boy was ever prouder of his first red wagon! There stands the nucleus of our dream-a forty acre date garden, forty acres where mesquite has surrendered to palm!
"Imagine how we felt," wrote Corley a year after, "when we lost one of the trees and fifty of the shoots! The one shoot surviving the nursery treatment we call the $500 palm, for shoots had a market value of $10 apiece then. Still believing the Bureau right in prescribing the hot house nursery system, we bought again with better success in rooting but high mortality of shoots. After regaining our breath and courage, again we went to market and bought, at $20 each, off-shoots left on the parent palm until their own root-system had developed. This time we set them out immediately in the orchard, 30x30 feet apart, 49 to the acre. They grew. It took us six years to establish three acres of palms."
But date palms are temperamental as if never forgetful of their oriental heritage of legend and romance. For eight months of the year they exact personal attention. Their straight lines must be cultivated by tractors, irrigated by power-driven pumps, and pollinated by hand. Their heads must be in the sun and their feet in water. And yet for these strangers, the present generation of date-growers has evolved better methods than the clay tablets and wall sculptures of ancient civilizations reveal.
Take, for instance, the problem of picking from the very crown the 150 pounds each tree can bear when twelve of fifteen years old. Three-year-olds produce a crop easily reached from the ground. For older trees, the picker can stand on a table. Finally come ladders that firemen or acrobats might go in training to climb. With an anxious eye on expense accounts and an inquiring eye on income, Luther invented a solution: a portable platform that can be raised, lowered, and manipulated by two workmen.
"As I look back over the first few years," writes Corley twenty years afterwards, "and recall the long, hot days, the wind and dust, the battle with mesquite and sage brush, the tedious task of levelling the untamed land and supplying artificial rain, the warfare of every type and species of insects, the unnumbered discouragements, I yet know this: all the king's horses and all the king's men cannot drag us away, for we came with a purpose-to raise dates."
"I wonder if the early fathers of our country endured greater hardships? A queer mixture of the old and new we are in this valley. Though the land is just as it has lain for centuries, inhabited by all sorts of wild animals coyotes, bobcats, snakes, birds-we have electricity with appliances for the home, water piped to the house and corrals, and our latest acquisition, the flivver.
"But these did not come all at once. There were many, many days of carrying water, many nights trying to make coal oil lamps burn in a house without doors and windows save screen wires canvas-covered, many long eight-mile drives to town for provisions with the mule team, one lame."
But still they follow the vision! Looking far into the future, they are content in the conviction that they are building for those coming after. They have the honor of being among the pioneers blazing new trails, making a desert blossom into a productive valley, and building a community.
OUTREACHES OF THE PIONEER
IN THE UNITED STATES INDIAN SERVICE
The Indians and the Family Change
A Frontier on the Mountain Top
These Things Shall be Added
THE INDIANS AND THE FAMILY CHANGE
The outbreak of the Indian War of 1790 found
Robert Allison and his family in the stockade at
If Robert Allison could have foreseen that exactly
100 years later, in 1890, his great-grandson, Charles Logan Davis, would begin
a career in Indian Service leading to the rank of head government officer of
all the Indians of the
Yet in 100 years martial contacts between the Government and the Indians had given place to friendly cooperation. The great-grandson who for twenty years was chiefly responsible for developing policies of cooperation, wrote, "My official relations were most pleasant with the Indian populations." If the Marietta pioneers could not have understood, his co-workers did, as for 36 years they saw him rise in service from bottom to top by sheer executive ability, sympathetic understanding of the Indians, and alertness to aid them in every way.
The task demanded all the vision, daring, and versatility of the pioneer. It involved many aspects: teaching better farming methods, breeding a better strain of cattle, building saw mills and setting up industries, acting as medical officer, supervising schools and building up attendance, prosecuting white men for violations against Indians, attacking liquor sales to Indians, setting up Indian courts to handle minor offenses, probating estates and legal work, managing a personal office and school force from 25-50 besides hundreds in the field, disbursing from a few thousand to over a million dollars annually, and travelling to inspect reservation work all over the country.
When Charles Davis was born,
Then threatened tuberculosis sent him to the open
air of southwest
In 1890 with health recovered he was appointed to
the Indian Service as a reward for political work in
His most spectacular feat was single-handed to
take over a reservation that only a detachment of the United States Army could
govern until he came. The First World War gave him the opportunity. The Army
was needed in
At this time the Apaches were making and drinking quantities of tulapi, a native-made intoxicant from corn. They fought among themselves, frequently killing each other, beating their wives, stealing horses, killing and eating the cattle given by the Government - all in all a vicious, lawless lot. Though the Government was providing a small boarding school and two rural schools, not more than one child in ten was in any school, and infrequently at that.
With astonishing audacity he organized a competent
Indian police force and established a court of three Indian members with
jurisdiction over local fights, family troubles, and other reservation
difficulties. So well did the Indian officers enforce reservation regulations
and preserve the peace, that only an occasional case
of murder had to go to the
With equal insight he found employment for the men
by establishing sawmills on the reservation to supply timber for bridges, houses,
schools, and needed public buildings. His most conspicuous service was in
developing a sense of ownership and pride in their live stock with the result
that nomad tendencies gave way to settled agricultural responsibilities. This
he accomplished by replacing the few Indian-owned old Longhorn
Another step was first to see that the white men who had leased Apache grazing lands for cattle and sheep should pay the Indians not for half of the number grazed but for all, and later to refuse renewals of the leases in favor of the big growing herds of the owners. With such changes and with boarding school attendance increased from 150 to 400 and rural schools from 50 to iSO, a transformation in community life took place for the better.
The Congressional Record carries a
commendation of this work in the issue of January 12,1928.
The Hon. Louis C. Crampton, of
"I came in contact while in the Southwest last fall with a man who had been nearly 40 years in the Indian Service, Mr. Charles L. Davis, the head of the White River Agency for the Apaches. These Indians have a large reservation, 1,680,000 acres, or 2,625 square miles, $4,000,000 of timber in their forests, some undeveloped coal and iron mines and asbestos, large grazing areas, a tribal herd of 2,300 cattle, with a probable income of $10,000 for that herd for this year, as well as herds of p ermittees from which they get an income of over $30,000 for 15,000 cattle and 30,000 sheep. They derived $156,000 from timber last year. There are many individual Indians having a total of 21,650 head of stock from which their income this year is $55,000.
"This will give you some idea of the responsibilities, the financial responsibilities, of such an agent. Joined to this is the tactfulness required in handling 2,000 or 3,000 temperamental individuals and taking care of them. There is an order of executive ability that is required; and what do you suppose such a man with all this responsibility upon him gets after 40 years in the service, a man who has discharged his duties in a most highly commendable fashion and in a way that would have brought him a very substantial income in private employment? As I recall, he was getting $3,300 at the time of his retirement a few weeks ago."
Certainly such an accomplishment means just one
thing: that the Indians and citizens of the
It also meant able Support by his wife, Lydia Dittes. Before marriage a teacher among the Sioux and later
Of the Indians, Charles Davis writes: "Nearly all of them resisted the onrush of the pioneers, prospectors, herders, and so on, but no more than we would have done under similar circumstances. But now that those generations have passed over the Great Divide, the new generations exhibit a spirit of forgetfulness few of us could measure up to. At present, Uncle Sam has no more loyal sons and daughters than those within the several Indian reservations. At the time of the World War, many of the Indians were not citizens, hence not subject to the draft. Yet many of them went as volunteers, and the reports on their services were about universally high. Had it not been for crossing the great water, nearly all acceptable for military service would have offered themselves."
In reviewing our Government's policies, ranging from crude to enlightened since the institution of the Indian Service, he writes:
"Constructive criticism is always welcomed by public servants of any great breadth of view. As we look back over the great field of endeavor, we can see many instances where better plans and policies might have been carried out. But when we study these matters in the light of the days in which they were enacted, we cannot but recognize that the service is usually worthy, although there are yet some changes requisite to get the highest and best results. Our own public standards have changed so fast it has kept many of us busy to keep up with them in our own lives."
The phrase "Indian problem" he believes
to be as much a misnomer as the phrase "European problem." Few people
would confuse Swede and Rumanian, German and French characteristics and
problems. Yet an equal mental confusion reveals itself in lumping under the
word "Indian" tribes and clans "as greatly differentiated as the
several nationalities of
All minorities in our country, whether Indian or other, he feels, arise from considerable numbers of a race congregating in communities capable of maintaining their racial customs. The solution, he says, is proper schooling, efficient social and industrial training, and above all an adequate and convincing presentation of American ideals lived out by neighbors under the great schoolmaster, Time. To Time belong not only many generations and many periods like that of 1790-1890, but the Present and the Future!
Pioneers have been needed from the time the Virginians arrived in 1608 to the present day: pioneers to establish justice between majority and minority and to win the allegiance of all to working for the ideal of national unity founded on righteousness; pioneers in human relationships! Theirs is the task of peace-makers whom One called Blessed.
A FRONTIER ON A MOUNTAIN TOP
The Psalmist may lift up his eyes unto the hills whence cometh his help, but mountains also have a habit of isolating people by literally lifting them thousands of feet into the air, away from their fellows, and then blocking them by steep precipices and valleys from the current of life in state and nation.
Two people there were who accidentally found a
lofty pine-clad skyland in
Their eyes were opened to the opportunity at Boaz,
Naturally, however, the curriculum in the home included practical arts as well as books. The neighbors called and saw. "Won't you teach my girl to make bread?" "Won't you teach my boy how to survey?" "Won't you show me how to raise better cotton?" The pleading inquiries went on until the community discovered that what they really wanted most for their empty, inadequate lives was a modern school that offered every rightful information belonging to an American boy, girl, or adult in a democracy.
But the people could not afford such a school. True, Boaz passed as a thriving town, then, with two stores, a blacksmith shop, a railroad depot, horse-swapping day every fourth Saturday, and cotton crops credited. But they were paying their utmost for education.
Then the Church stepped in. The Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church authorized the founding of Boaz Seminary and contributed more than they could spare, small as the amount was. Then the girls stepped in. In fact, they flocked in. The first girl from the cotton fields, Anne took into her own home, unable to turn a deaf ear to the plea for opportunity. But with touching confidence in Christians to extend democratic privileges to all alike, there came four, five, and then ten and twelve to Anne's four room home! She did not fail them. Instead, her husband devised an ingenious bed-spring in a wooden frame on hinges, folding up by day against the wall with a portiere to conceal it, and by night lowered. So many beds finally filled the room that the girls had to crawl over one bed to get into another, in order that two more girls might have an opportunity for education. Then Uncle John Snead stepped in, the owner of the house. So touched was he with the eagerness of the girls that he built several rooms onto the original four room building, while Anne Elder wrote to friends north for contributions to help defray the expenses of the girls. So a girls' dormitory was born.
When the Elders went with their story before the Conference
at the next annual session in 1899, there was long deliberation. They felt the
need deeply. They had no money for buildings and equipment What
was to be done? From Anne herself came the suggestion
in a stirring appeal that they send to the General Conference of the
"I cannot go!" she exclaimed, struggling to her feet she who had addressed many an audience as the personal friend of Frances E. Willard and one of the organizers of her great work. "I cannot leave home!"
But for once she did not have her husband's support "My dear," he said, "if you refuse, there can be no education for these children. I am not well enough to travel and speak. But I can run the home and school in your absence."
She went out of the meeting in tears. But the upshot was that in the next twenty-five years in her frequent absences, Lee Elder helped run the school, kept its books, and taught Latin, Greek, and art to young ministers often rising from a couch in an inner office to enter the outer' office when necessary, always running matters efficiently and graciously, with cool, level head.
From the start the community rallied to the prospect of a real school and a real girls' dormitory. To the first acre given by Uncle Joel Morton, Mr. Robert McCleskey added ten adjoining acres towards the campus, and Uncle John Snead loaned the money to send Anne Elder to the General Conference, where she won the support of individuals and paved the way for the sponsorship of the girls' work by the Woman's Home Missionary Society.
Well she knew the need for a new schoolhouse! Through the cracks of the floor, teachers and pupils could see and count the razorback hogs, running loose in the town, as they rooted under the floor. But it was impossible to count, or even catch, the fleas which made one rise up suddenly, muttering "Gee'haud' a'fat" with precise emphasis, not to emphasize odors. Then she had a vivid memory of the bunks for girls in her own home, and of the boys, without dormitory, rising early to wind along trails by wagon, ox-team, horseback, or on foot, to reach school in time.
Simply she presented the story of the needs and
possibilities and everywhere she won support from the churches where her
husband had preached before teaching in college, and from women 5 societies and
individuals. So absorbed was she in love for the people of
Gradually buildings arose, much of the construction by student labor, with the boys making the furniture and the girls attending to the housework. In two years the McCleskey Home for girls bore tribute to the fine woman who was the mother of Mr. Robert McCleskey and the mother-in-law of Uncle John S. Snead. With the name changed from Boaz Seminary to the John S. Snead Seminary, later in 1936 it was chartered as a Junior College when the town grew prosperous enough to Support its own high school. Even before that, the School kept growing under the Elders and after they retired, until ultimately around the campus stood the administration building, well-lighted laboratories, science laboratoties, boys' dormitory, Fielder Auditorium named after the first president, the Polly lipe Hall, gymnasium, athletic field, work shop for manual arts, and domestic science work rooms.
But bricks and brawn are only two sides of a school of which the third is brains and the fourth morale, the whole forming the foundation on which to build a personality sensitive to the finest of the world's culture, afire with the spirit of service and sacrifice, and humble enough to do whatever the hand is required to do. For all this, one source they taught: a living faith in God, overflowing into abundant life.
Writes one of her early graduates, Ethel Harpst, "The very first day I went to McCleskey, Mother Elder invited me into her room. She was
sitting by an open fire, and I sat down on a footstool near her. She began to
talk to me.. .I was thrilled with her personality and
the charming way she told her story. Somehow as I watched the fire burn and
listened, there came something into my heart, and I knew this was what I wanted
to do." Today, after twenty-seven years, Miss Harpst
is conducting a home which she founded for orphan and half-orphan children from
the hills of northwest
And so have the dreams of many of Mother Elder's girls with whom she chatted by her hearth the first day of school life, so that, though the great majority have founded their own southern homes, yet a large minority have entered all walks of life throughout the United States and have gone abroad as missionaries, as have her boys also. Though as many as 1000 girls and boys lived in her school at one time, never did she forget the personal touch, especially with girls, to whom she devoted herself particularly.
There were many who helped her. From
If vegetables or fruit needed to be canned from the 100 acre farm that fed the school under a competent farmer aided by the boys, then a game was made of it. As a surprise at lunch, every girl might find two pears beside her plate. These the girls would swiftly peel for canning and place on trays kitchen-bound, racing to see who would finish first and who last. The lunch had a relish such days! Or a snap. party would be announced on the front porch by moonlight. To the initiated of the domestic science department, that meant huge tubs of string beans for the boys to carry out and everyone to snap for canning more swiftly than a cloud can cross the moon. But white cotton fields shimmering under a full moon was an annual signal they awaited eagerly! Out into the cotton fields by moonlight the whole School would go with their teachers to pick cotton for wages; wages they joyously contributed to a fund to bring opportunity to others of their families and friends to attend school, or to help support one of their graduates out on the mission field.
Lots of fun, too, did the students have, raising money for their own school by concerts, pageants, dinners, or icecream sup p ers. Always Mother Elder supplied her students with the funniest stunts and most comical recitations that would throw the audience into stitches of laughter, and she herself would not hesitate to take the most humorous roles, even if that meant singing flat, with her lovely voice, throughout a quartet selection.
Or there might be simon-pure fun, like classday picnics on the Tennessee River, or Halloween parties, or the May Day parade with their faithful old red horse, Billie, drawing the buggy submerged in white do gwood blossoms in honor of the Queen, surrounded in state by troops in blue and white uniform marching through the town streets amid the applause of the onlookers. Anne Elder gave bread to the hungry, empty lives, but she also gave roses.
Fortunate enough never to be ill, she seemed capable of becoming a perpetual motion machine so full of vitality and good spirits that she never knew what it was to be tired. Once, only, was she slowed down, and that by a lame left knee. She consulted a doctor. He advised perfect rest and a restricted diet. She went to a chiropractor. He advised exercising the knee and massage. "Very well," she announced mischievously. "I'll follow the chiropractor's advice by day, and the doctor's by night!" She did. Occasionally she was absent-minded. Once she walked into the choir stall with her hat backwards, and almost ruined her devout husband's sermon.
When the Birmingham News awarded her the Orchid of
Distinction for her civic work in
But whether it is mountains to be brought low, or valleys to be exalted, rough places to be made smooth, or city streets to be widened for the boys and girls playing therein, or the desert to blossom like the rose for them, in all these places who shall find a more fruitful frontier for pioneering than the frontier of America's youth?
THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED 1940
One frontier many of the family have explored to the very boundary. But cross that boundary without reservations? "Impossible,' some say.
Yet so strong is the challenge to make possible the impossible, that others have explored the parables of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air only to pronounce them literal truth! They have dared take God at His word and act on it! Just one monosyllable the world has for such unconquerable conviction-Faith. Faith that mountains of difficulties will dissolve as morning mists, for "Where God guides, He provides."
Laymen there have been in the family and ministers
and missionaries who, without reservation, have pioneered in Faith. Here is
what happened in
"We've been here in a church for nearly three months after living on faith for nearly three years," writes the mother of the family. "On resigning from the Board of Foreign Missions, we felt led to be footloose. Not foot-loose in the sense of passive irresponsibility, of course, but of alert availability to serve as shock troops wherever spiritual needs call! And were we busy! Soul-searching interviews with those who sought us to find God's answer for their problems, team meetings with religious leaders to seek His plan for public meetings and campaigns, and so on! Throughout these three years I think we were both of us keen to try out the saying, 'Seek ye first the Kingdom . . . and all these things shall be added.'
"I, for one, thought everything would be smooth sailing all the time, and never would an occasion for jitters arise. Gradually we began to use up savings laid by. Then we just supposed God would send something to take us on from there. But He didn't. Instead, we thought of investments which had come at the time of my father's death and had helped us out in many a pinch. These we took off ice and lived on. These gone, we began to pray for help from heaven again. None came except for small needs.
"'How about selling our Steinway?' we asked ourselves, bought at a flush time to fulfill a lifelong desire of mine. This thought kept recurring with the name of a certain friend. I telephoned.
"'Why, yes, I have been considering buying one,' came the reply. As I saw it leave the house, self-pity set in. But the thought 'sacrifice' came in its place. Self-pity went with the piano.
"Just as the last installment on it came, I learned that I would be compelled to have a thyroid operation. This almost completely bowled me over. The first fear that shot through my mind was 'Where will the money come from?' In more than two years living without income, I had begun to learn to turn things over to a Power greater than myself. I did it this time, although not easy. Hospital expenses and living expenses for the family used up that final installment.
"On the day after my return from the hospital, a check came in the mail for fifty dollars. This took care of an impending bill and left us at zero. The surgeon's fee, of course, would be high. Did we dare face how much he would ask? Again I gave over fear and continued to be under his care as though I had a million. When we asked his fee, he evaded, saying he was not worrying about that and would let us know. He never charged a penny, and over a period of months treated me with as much care and interest as though I were his highest paying client.
"That hot summer, we came to the end of our
ice-ticket book. 'Would God really ask us to do
without ice?' I pondered. We had lived in
"Shortly after, during weather so hot we tried living in the basement, came another ice-shortage. But Betty Ann and Jack had created some little pins out of ply-wood. Betty Ann drew them-tiny dolls, birds, deer, cocker-spaniels, and what not, and Jack sawed them out with a scroll saw. With tiny pins fastened on the back, colored, and shellacked, they made lovable ornaments. They sold among their friends nearly five dollars worth. This tided us over and supplied our ice-box again.
"Betty Ann graduated from high school in May. As summer came on, she began to talk about college. I wouldn't even entertain the hope that she could go. I just knew it was out of the question. Telling her she would have to pray about it, I was relieved to be thus rid of the matter. But she was not so easily put off. 'I believe I am to go,' she would say confidently.
"About this time my sister came to visit us. On leaving, she said, 'Betty Ann, if you are thinking about going to college this fall, I want to furnish your wardrobe for you.' Betty Ann was thrilled.
"A few days later we were invited to a
friend's home to meet some missionary friends from
"One morning a telegram came from friends
just returned from
"As for tuition, it was not in sight. We had
some Chinese rugs we had brought new from
"Going began to get tougher at the home end. Although sums for small expenses came in as regularly as they fell due, rent began to fail. Was this a sign God had another plan for us? My husband was asked to preach in the northern end of the state the following Sunday. He went. They asked him to accept a call to the church. What were we to do? Bills were pressing. Should we go on a salary basis again? We sought H is plan. He said, 'No.'
"So utterly unreasonable did this seem that we wondered if we were not wrong. I must confess that with a heavy heart for several days I asked myself, 'Can we be right?' Then my husband was asked to preach at another place. They extended a call. This time, His answer was 'Yes.' So here we are.
"In the meantime, our treasury was empty. My
husband had returned withoutapenny for his services.
Again I became desperate. But we had warmth, food, clothes, and
"We were to move at once. Since the new manse had a gas range, we did not need the one we owned. Laying before God the matter of the sale, the name of a neighbor came to us. 'Yes,' she said, 'we would like to buy it, for the one we are using is borrowed.'
"Our household goods were packed in the van, and we were making the last preparations for leaving the house. Still no money was in hand for telephone bill, water, gas, and electricity. The neighbor who was buying the stove asked us to have lunch with her. 'We feel you are not asking enough for your stove,' she said. 'We believe it is worth two dollars more than your price.' So we were able to pay the incidental bills, and be off in an hour's time.
"Since coming here, things have literally been showered on us. We arrived in a snow storm. The Westminster Aid had the house freshly papered, furnace heated for a day or so in advance, and the kitchen table loaded and overflowing with canned fruits, fresh vegetables, grapefruit, puddings, pickles, and at Christmas time a turkey, capon, T-bone steaks, a fry-so much we were unable to care for it all. Then a friendly voice on the phone said, 'We have a locker at the ice-house, and thought you would perhaps like to make use of it for the meat you got at Christmas.' And so it goes!
"Since we have had a church, so many friends have written notes of congratulation and relief that we have steady employment again. When I was tidying up the kitchen shortly after we came, I thought, how many will say 'Well, they're sensible. They've taken a church at last.' But there have been a few who have said, and one of them a colored girl, 'Isn't it wonderful? What a privilege they are given to be entrusted with such testing!'
Such faith sounds in trumpet tones within the soul one alternative to clergy and laity alike, whether guided to a special field on faith or to a position on salary. That alternative? This! Build up your resources and individuality for yourself, or lay down your life for others? Security or risk? Self or God?
What are the characteristics of a "typical
American pioneer" that have persisted during three hundred years of the history
For answer, let us face another question: If
Americans oppose, or try to escape, the "
Fundamentally shall we not affirm that our ideal
of "one country, indivisible, with freedom and justice for all" rests
on the practical realism of spiritual values such as the Fatherhood of God and
the Brotherhood of Man? Shall we not say that on this rock
Fundamentally shall we not affirm that our
principle of reverence for the unfettered mind in education is based on the
realistic conviction phrased in homely fashion by our great
Fundamentally shall we not affirm that in spirit and in truth we believe "in government of the people, by the people, and for the people," and pledge our lives and sacred honor that this ideal shall not perish from the earth?
Fundamentally shall we not affirm that we believe so realistically in the inherent dignity of man that we close no door of initiative and opportunity to any whose ideal is, not the economic and political aggrandizement of family or group, but the exaltation of the economic, social, political, and spiritual welfare of our total citizenry?
Fundamentally shall we not affirm that the pioneer
spirit which founded